Taking care of tomato plants - 29. May 2019

Here we are, we finally planted our tomatoes and the exciting season is going to start, but what do we have to do in order to take the best care of our tomatoes plants?

- First of all we have to know if we are taking care of a determinate or indeterminate plant. As the names suggest, a determinate tomato plant grows up to a certain height and then stop while the indeterminate tomato plant will grow continuously until nature prevents it.

 

Pinch and Pruning

DETERMINATE PLANTS

Some people don't prune determinate plants at all, but if you wish to do so you can follow these steps: 

- Cut the bottom leaves if these would touch the ground and prevent the airflow the plant incurs in a higher risk to catch certain diseases. 

- Do not priune the suckers exept those on the bottom of the plant. You need to let the plant bush and fill out. 

- Keep it tidy though and ensure the light can get in.  

INDETERMINATE PLANTS

- Cut the bottom leaves if these would touch the ground and prevent the air flow the plant incurs in a higher risk to catch certain diseases. 

- Remove all the suckers. How do you recognize the suckers? Follow the main stem from the ground with your fingers, you'll notice that between the main stem and the leaf, in the 90 degrees angle, there are secondary stems that will grow by sucking a lot of the energy plants, so they need to be removed. 
Remove the suckers until the plant reaches half of the height you want it to reach and then you can let it branch out.

- Double stem pruning. It might happen that the stem separate in two main stems, in that case it would be best to let only one of the two to produce and trim the other one. However it must grow for a while until the first cluster of flower and then pruned. 

- Once the plant reaches the height you wish, keep tidying up the top, by pruning certain branches and ensuring the sun can get in.

 

Mulching

When planting out our seedlings, mulching is often not te first thing that comes to mind, but it is very important for many different reasons:

- it keeps the moisture in.
- helps cooling down the soil. 
- fights the weeds expansion. 
- helps preventing diseases, by preventing water splashes to get to the leaves and fruits.
- improves the soil composition.  

Add mulch to your tomatoes plants two weeks after you've planted your plants. You can buy mulch directly from the shop, choose organic mulch, which is usually made of leaves, straw, grass clippings, shredded wood and compost. 

Spread about 5/10 cm of mulch around the plant, make sure to make a small well around the stem so that the mulch does not touch it, in order to prevent rotting of the stem. 

 

Watering

- Water tomatoes plants on a daily basis (when it's not raining). Try to water only the soil and avoid to wet the leaves to avoid fungal diseases. you can test the moisture of the soil by feeling it with a finger, to make sure there's always enough moisture. 

 

Staking 

- Stake the plant. Place a wooden/bamboo stick beside the plant and tie the stem to the stick with a string, keep it fairly loose to give the stem the room to develop.