How to Grow a Bumper Crop of Tomatoes


Tomatoes are one of the most versatile and rewarding crops to grow at home. Here are 6 hacks to help you grow a bumper crop of tomatoes and maximize production from your tomato plants! #howtogrowtomatoes #growabumpercropoftomatoes #tomatogrowingtips #tomatogrowinghacksTomatoes are one of those crops that you really can’t grow enough of. Even if you’re not a big fan of fresh tomatoes, chances are you enjoy some tomato-based products on the regular. And that means that if you grow your own tomatoes, you can make those products at home!

Homegrown tomatoes aren’t just healthier than the conventionally grown, chemically-ripened, pesticide-sprayed, imported tomatoes from the store, they’re infinitely more flavourful too. 

There’s nothing like a fresh tomato right off the vine in the summer. Slice it up, sprinkle it with a little sea salt… Mmmmmmm….

Grow enough of them and you’ll have your own more nutritious, more delicious homegrown, homemade tomato sauce, pizza and pasta sauce, salsa, sun-dried tomatoes, ketchup, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, diced tomatoes, Caesar or Bloody Mary mix… The options are endless.

The point is, tomatoes are one of the most versatile crops you can grow, and there’s really no such thing as having too many tomatoes because they’re easy to preserve (just stick ‘em in the freezer until you’re ready to can ‘em or process right away), and they play a starring role in so many dishes and condiments, from soups and stews to pizza and pasta to Mexican food (salsa, enchilada sauce, hot sauce, etc.) and more.

They’re also pretty easy to grow, provided you give them a sunny spot and lots of space for their roots to stretch out. If you can, plant tomatoes in the ground to give them maximum root space. But if not, they grow well in raised beds and containers too.

Basically what I’m saying is, if you can grow tomatoes at home, you most definitely should.

 

Related: How to Grow Tomatoes From Seed

 

But growing tomatoes can come with its share of heartaches and disappointments too. Tomato plants are susceptible to a range of common problems ranging from blight and blossom end rot to leaf spot and fusarium wilt to catfacing… Yes, I said “cat facing.” Stay with me. We’ll get there!

Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do prevent many of these common tomato problems from occurring in the first place. And with tomatoes, an ounce of prevention really is worth at least a pound of cure! 

Aside from the things you should be doing with ALL of your annual vegetables to keep them healthy and give them a strong head start (ie. companion planting, crop rotation, starting with healthy soil, etc.) tomatoes require a little specialized care and attention to make sure they stay healthy and productive.

The following is a list of six tips and tricks to give your tomato plants a strong head start in the garden, keep them healthy all season long and grow a bumper crop of tomatoes in your home garden. This is the stuff we do every year and our tomatoes go gangbusters! 

Get ready for your best tomato crop ever:)

 

How to Grow A Bumper Crop of Tomatoes: 6 Tips for Healthy Tomato Plants

 

Tomatoes are one of the most versatile and rewarding crops to grow at home. Here are 6 hacks to help you grow a bumper crop of tomatoes and maximize production from your tomato plants! #howtogrowtomatoes #growabumpercropoftomatoes #tomatogrowingtips #tomatogrowinghacks

 

1. Plant deep

Tomatoes like to be planted deep, Like, really deep. If you look closely at the stems, you’ll see tiny, fibrous “hairs” all the way up the stem. These are all potential roots on the tomato plant, and any part of the stem that’s buried under the soil will establish roots. Planting tomato plants deep means that they’ll establish a strong, healthy root system, which means they’ll be able to absorb even more nutrients from the soil to feed the plants and produce more fruit.

Adventitious roots | 6 Hacks for Growing A Bumper Crop of Tomatoes

Here you can see the tiny hairs all up the stem if this tomato plant. Mind the chipped nail polish. #reallife

At the time of planting, pinch off the lower leaves, leaving only a few leaves at the top of the plant, and plant the tomato plant deep enough that you bury the stem to just below the lowest set of leaves (try to avoid having the lowest set of leaves touch the soil).

Dig deep holes for tomatoes | 6 Hacks for Growing A Bumper Crop of Tomatoes

 

2. Add calcium

Another very common tomato problem is blossom end rot. This is when black or brown spots form at on the flower (blossom) end of your tomatoes as they’re forming, and it’s most often caused by a lack of calcium in the soil.

Blossom End Rot | 6 Hacks for Growing A Bumper Crop of Tomatoes

Tomatoes with blossom end rot develop brown spots on the blossom end (bottom) of the fruit.

An easy, frugal way to fix this is by saving up your eggshells and grinding them into a powder, then adding a handful or two to each planting hole before you plant your tomatoes. We’ve had way less blossom end rot on our plants since we started using crushed eggshells in our soil.

Using crushed eggshells in the garden | 6 Hacks for Growing A Bumper Crop of Tomatoes

If you don’t have time to save up eggshells, you can also use gypsum or lime, which you can get from your local nursery. Lime is a great source of calcium but it raises the PH level of your soil making it more alkaline, which can negatively affect your plants and your overall production in the garden if your soil too alkaline (most plants prefer slightly acidic soil). Gypsum is another good option and doesn’t raise your PH. 

 

3. Pinch off the lower branches

When planting your tomatoes, you’ll want to pinch off most of the lower branches in order to plant the stem really deep (see hack #1). This will allow the stem below the soil to produce more roots and will also direct more energy into rooting rather than into the leaves and branches. 

 

Pinching off tomato leaves | 6 Hacks for Growing A Bumper Crop of Tomatoes

You should also pinch off any tomato blossoms on your plant at the time of planting to direct all energy into growing a healthy root system.

Pinching off tomato blossoms | 6 Hacks for Growing A Bumper Crop of Tomatoes

As your tomato plants grow, continue to pinch or cut off the lower branches.

Take off all of the branches below the lowest vine of fruit to encourage the plant to put all of its energy at this stage into fruiting rather than into the leaves.

You also want to prevent the lower leaves from touching the soil as this can cause fungus and disease to spread. Always keep your tomato plant pruned so that the lower branches are well above the soil. Mulch can also help by acting as a barrier.

 

4. Pinch off suckers (on indeterminate plants)

Suckers are the new vines that form on tomato plants. They start out small between the “crotch” of the stem and existing branches. Then they grow into new vines that produce more leaves and more flowers.

Both determinate (bush) and indeterminate (vining) tomato plants produce suckers, but it’s not necessary to pinch off the suckers on determinate plants since the plants only grow to a certain size and then stop. On indeterminate plants, suckers will continue to grow into new vines that will become hard to support and all of your plants energy will go into producing new vines instead of into producing and growing big, beautiful tomatoes on the main vine, so it’s best to pinch or cut off the suckers on indeterminate plants.

Tomatoes are one of the most versatile and rewarding crops to grow at home. Here are 6 hacks to help you grow a bumper crop of tomatoes and maximize production from your tomato plants! #howtogrowtomatoes #growabumpercropoftomatoes #tomatogrowingtips #tomatogrowinghacks

We sometimes allow one extra vine to grow if a sucker gets away from us, but for the most part we prune pretty ruthlessly. We also cut back some of the upper leaves to keep them relatively short. We still want enough foliage for the plant to convert lots of energy from the sun into sugars to feed growth. But we also want as much energy as possible going into fruit production once the plants are established. 

Plus, tomato plants do best when there’s lots of airflow between their leaves. Keeping them well pruned helps to allow lots of space for fresh air to flow around and between tomato plants.

 

5. Water evenly 

When it comes to watering tomato plants, you want to try to water them as evenly as possible. That means trying not to let them get too dried out and also trying not to flood them when you do water. If tomato plants dry out a lot and are then given a large dose of water all at once, this can result in catfacing. Yes, I said “cat-facing.” It’s when your tomatoes look like this:

Catfacing in Tomatoes | 6 Hacks for Growing A Bumper Crop of Tomatoes

They get all gnarly and twisted looking, which would be really cool if they were halloween pumpkins or something. But considering we wanna be able to eat these guys fresh off the vine, or process them easily to preserve them, cat-faced tomatoes aren’t ideal.

In general it’s best to water tomato plants low and slow, meaning water deeply at the base of the plant and don’t give your plants more water than they can handle at any one time (ie. if they’re really dry, slowly get the, back up to the proper moisture level). 

Watering tomato plants | 6 Hacks for Growing A Bumper Crop of Tomatoes

Your watering schedule will vary depending on your climate and weather, but in general it’s good practice to water your tomato plants deeply every two or three days so that the roots can easily absorb the water, and so that the soil has time to dry out just enough but not too much before the next watering.

Mulch will also help with keeping your soil moist, and will keep soil from splashing onto your tomato leaves and possibly spreading disease while you’re watering. 

 

6. Keep the leaves dry

It’s not just the lower leaves that don’t like to get wet or “muddy.” In general, tomato plants don’t like to get their leaves wet at all. In fact, when tomato leaves get consistently wet, the plants can easily develop blight, and once you plants get blight there’s pretty much no bouncing back from that.

This is why you should always water around the base of the plant (not overhead) and you should try to protect your plants from the rain as much as possible.

If you live somewhere hot and dry, you might not have to worry about rain during the growing season. But if you live in a place with a lot of rainfall (like where I live here on Vancouver Island in the Pacific Northwest), then you might have to put up a shelter or grow your tomatoes in a greenhouse or a hoop house to protect the leaves from getting wet.

We built our own shelters (ok, my husband built them mostly, but I helped a little) to go over our tomato plants, and they’ve been a total game changer for our tomato plants.

Tomato shelters | Tomato roofs | 6 Hacks for Growing A Bumper Crop of Tomatoes

We attached these tomato shelters to our raised beds. We’ve also got some free-standing ones in our main annual vegetable garden.

Last year we had higher than average rainfall over the summer months and many people’s tomato plants suffered around here. But we got our largest bumper crop ever! Well over 300 pounds of healthy tomatoes came out of our garden last year and I attribute most of our success to our tomato shelters:)

If you do a quick Google search for tomato growing tips, you’re sure to get all sorts of information on how to grow healthy tomatoes at home, many of which we covered today and some other ones that we didn’t. In the end, you’ll get to know what works best for you and your tomatoes by trial and, sometimes, error. 

It took us at least three years to really get our tomato game down. We’ve literally dealt with all of the common problems I mentioned above (did you see that catfaced pic from our garden a few years ago??)

But now that we follow the aforementioned tomato-growing hacks pretty religiously, we’ve seen a marked improvement in how well our plants perform and produce and how many pounds of tomatoes we pull out of our garden throughout the season.

Of course, there’s always room for improvement, so I’d love to know any of your special tomato-growing hacks too!

What special tips or tricks do you have for growing healthy, productive tomato plants at home? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Wishing you homemade, homegrown, homestead happiness 🙂

 

 

 

 

P.S. Wanna learn how to grow, raise, prepare and reserve more of your own food at home? Today and tomorrow only, you can get your hands on an entire digital library of gardening, preserving, homesteading and self-sufficiency resources, valued at almost $600, for less than $20. Click here to learn how!

 


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2 Comments

  1. Pattie

    thank you for this information, your step by step along with the photos explained a lot. But my biggest thank you if for sharing this advice for free, you are a Jewell

    Reply
  2. Dayna

    Good tips you’ve shared. When we put our plants in the garden, we laid soaker hoses along each plant to water them well with no spray on the leaves. We also sprinkle Epsom salt around each plant to help prevent blossom end rot and water it in well. And, since we live in a dry, hot area of Texas, we have a metal frame over the plants where we’ve fastened sun shade fabric to prevent hail damage during storms and also filter the parching heat that really harms them here. They are all thriving and are loaded down with tomatoes so we should have a great bounty to can for winter as well as having plenty of table tomatoes, too.

    Reply

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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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I don't know about where you're from, but around here the Christmas decorations have been on store shelves since August and the first carton of eggnog I saw at the grocery store was in September! ⁣

I'm all for celebrating the season, but I think it loses something when it becomes Christmas all year long (or at least when it spans 2 or even 3 seasons!)⁣

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What’s in your bug out bag??

Yesterday I was in my Stories sharing a bit about emergency preparedness and what I’m doing to get prepared for whatever the future holds.

I also asked YOU what emergency skills or supplies you recommend having in your back pocket “just in case,” and one of the responses I got was to have a bug out bag packed and ready to go.

This got me thinking it was high time to pull out my bug out bag and go through it because it’s been a couple years since I last did so. I decided to share it with you here and show you what I keep packed and ready to go and go through what needs updating and what I’m missing.

If the concept of a bug out bag is new to you, have a watch through this video and check out this article on 15 Emergency Preparedness Items You Need to Have Packed and Ready to Go: https://thehouseandhomestead.com/15-emergency-preparedness-items-you-need-packed-ready-to-go/

Also, if getting more prepared for anything and everything from a power outage to a natural disaster to a medical emergency to a man made disaster like a war or a cyber attack is a goal of yours, be sure to check out the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, which is packed with great advice on emergency preparedness for any situation. (Link in bio @anna.sakawsky or visit modernhomesteadingmagazine.com)

I’d also love to hear from you!

Do you keep a bug out bag packed?

What do you keep in it?

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Do you have what you need on hand to take care of yourself and your family in the event of a worst case scenario?

With everything going on in the world these days, we’re getting more and more serious about equipping ourselves with the tools, supplies and skills needed to handle emergency situations if the need arises.

Between growing nuclear tensions, the ongoing threat of pandemics, cyber attacks and a looming energy crisis, medical staff and supply shortages, and general “everyday” medical, financial and other miscellaneous emergencies, we’d all be wise to be prepared BEFORE the next emergency happens.

One of our neighbours passed away very suddenly last week (just 50 years old 😔) and it reminded me of just how quickly things can go sideways. As far as we know he suffered a heart attack, and while his wife did everything she could to save him, by the time the ambulance arrived it was too late. It was a wake up call for me, that not only do we need to be prepared with supplies on hand, but with knowledge and skills too. I’m definitely looking into booking a refresher First Aid course and highly recommend everyone reading this do the same if this is a skill you need to brush up on!

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My hubby @ryan.sakawsky covered many emergency scenarios and how to prepare for them in detail in the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, you can subscribe and read the latest issue via the link in my bio, or by visiting https://modernhomesteadingmagazine.com/subscribe/

I’d also love to hear from you! What are you doing to prepare and/or what skills and resources would you recommend that everyone acquire now before it’s too late?

Comment below 👇
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31 3

If you feel like your garden struggled more than usual this year, or that many of your homesteading efforts were in vain, you’re not alone.

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To read the full story, click the link in my bio @anna.sakawsky or go to modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to subscribe or log in and read the latest issue 🍁

(Quote in the reel by Mike Fitzgerald, “Rolling With the Punches,” Modern Homesteading Magazine | Issue 29 | Fall 2022).

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The world is changing faster than ever.

We’ve barely had time to adapt to the “new normal” and still things are continuing to shift, change, and in some cases spiral more each day.

From rising inflation and persistent supply chain issues, to a looming recession and food shortages that are expected to get worse after a very tough farming year, to a war on European soil and the threat of cyber attacks and (God forbid) a nuclear attack, to the future of digital IDs and increasingly pervasive government control over every aspect of our lives, it’s no wonder more people are looking for ways to escape the matrix and “opt out” of the system.

I consider myself an optimistic realist: I hope for the best and I live fully and freely in the moment, but I prepare for the future accordingly based on what I can see unfolding in our world. And honestly, I find this “sweet spot” to be incredibly empowering.

This is why I do what I do and why I share it with you on a regular basis; I WANT TO EMPOWER YOU TOO!

That’s why I created The Society of Self-Reliance: A private membership that connects you with the resources, support and community you need to reclaim your independence and become more self-reliant in every aspect of your life.

From growing and preserving your own food to crafting and using herbal medicine to life skills like how to manage it all and stay calm in stressful situations, how to prepare for emergency situations and much more, if you’re ready to learn invaluable skills that will help you take control of your family’s food security, health and wellbeing, time, finances, and ultimately over your own future, The Society of Self-Reliance was created for you!

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be reopening the Society doors for a limited time starting next week, and wanted to give you the heads up NOW so that you can get on the waitlist and make sure you don’t miss out when enrollment opens.

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My husband and I each got an Amber Alert on our phones the other night along with millions of other British Columbians, informing us of a child abduction in Vancouver. It made the suspect sound like a dangerous kidnapper and said “do not approach. Call 911.”

As it turns out, it was the mother of the child (a 3-year-old boy), who had refused medical treatment without getting a second opinion and follow up blood tests, so the Ministry of Child and Family Services was called, she was arrested and her son was taken from her and was administered medical treatment in the hospital without consent and without a guardian present.

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Doctors are not gods and as mothers we do not co-parent with the government!!!

This hits close to home for me because I too have been through the medical system and had my concerns dismissed, was misdiagnosed and given wrong information, and was treated with obvious contempt when I got a second opinion.

In this day and age of rampant medical coercion and the erosion of bodily autonomy over our own bodies and over those of our children, this story highlights the dangers of the very slippery slope we’re on.

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Check out my stories for the full video that the mom, Wiloh made explaining the details of what happened or check out the comments for links to learn more & support this family.
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95 27

I’ve hesitated about posting this reel over and over because I know I’ll probably get backlash, hate and vitriol from some people in return. But I wouldn’t be being true to myself if I didn’t speak the truth that’s on my heart and mind…

If you haven’t noticed, there are currently thousands of Canadians sharing their stories and using the hashtag #trudeaumustgo on their social media posts right now in response to the divisive rhetoric and actions of our prime minister over the past few months. But our media has downplayed the issue and has attributed most of the hashtags to “bot” accounts and foreigners trying to influence our politics.

In response, real Canadians are making videos and sharing their stories to show that we are not bots, but real people who have been negatively affected by the words and actions of our leaders, particularly our leader at the top.

I used to consider myself a lifelong leftist and have supported the liberal government and Trudeau over the years, but after what I’ve witnessed over the past few months; After how he has spoken about Canadians who have made a different medical choice or who have protested mandates (which have done nothing to stop the spread of you-know-what anyway); After the hate and division that has trickled down from the top and infiltrated our communities, I can no longer stand silently by.

While I am 💉, a few months ago when I voiced my support for those who stood up against mandates and against the division being pushed on us by our leadership, I suddenly found myself among what our prime minister called the “small fringe minority” of citizens with “unacceptable views.”

I lost followers, friends and even a couple family members. I was told I’d been “radicalized,” although my views have never changed.

So today I’m adding my voice to the chorus of real, everyday Canadians who are taking a stand against tyranny and division in this country. As the saying goes, if we do not stand for something, we’ll fall for anything. I stand for freedom & autonomy, and against division & tyranny.

#trudeaumustgo

(Special thanks to fellow 🇨🇦 homesteader @meggarlandd for inspiring me & giving me the courage to post this:)
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284 59

What would you do if the grid went down?

Imagine not just the lights going out, but all power, all digital communication and information. Would you be prepared?

A lot of us THINK we’re prepared for a grid down situation, but unless you’re already living off grid, you might not realize how dependent on technology we really are!

In the fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, contributor Ashley Constance of @dirtypawshomestead and @alittleselfreliant shares her experience voluntarily going without power for the day, and what she and her husband, Shawn learned from their grid down experiment.

You might be surprised at the things they discovered and missed on their prep list, and it might prompt you to reevaluate whether you’re ready in case the grid goes down, or even just Google 😱

Check out the full story in the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine!

Link in bio @anna.sakawsky or visit www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com

#modernhomesteadingmagazine #homesteadersofinstagram #homesteading #modernhomesteading #prepping #nationalpreparednessmonth
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The other day when I had a few minutes to spare, I was out in the garden doing a little work when my neighbour said hi over the fence.

I lamented to her about how busy we’ve been and how hard it’s been to keep on top of this year. Very sincerely, she replied “wait until you have another one,” referring to our baby on the way.

“You’ll be moving back to the suburbs so quick, mark my words,” she said.

Now, I don’t for a second think there was any ill intent behind her statement, but still, it took me aback.

“We’ll never move back to the city or the suburbs,” I replied with a laugh. “This may be hard work but we love it.”

She then repeated her statement and followed it up with “just you wait and see.”

I decided not to continue the back and forth. After all, I told myself, it doesn’t matter if she or anyone else knows what’s truly in your heart. It doesn’t matter if she understands that there’s no amount of difficulty that would make me run back to the suburbs and leave this life behind. In fact, our dream is to upgrade to a bigger property someday where we can grow an even bigger garden and add more livestock to our homestead!

Likewise, I visited the city last weekend for a family event and as always, I had at least a couple people ask me “so when are you moving back to the city?”

Seven years later, and still we have friends and family members who think this is just a phase we’re going through, and eventually we’ll come to our senses and move back.

I used to get offended by these questions because I felt unseen; I felt like nobody took this life that I’m so passionate about seriously, and thought it was “cute” that I was “playing farmer” for a bit, but eventually I had to grow up and become part of the “real world” once again.

Now I just smile and reply “never:)”

Can you relate? How do you (politely) respond when someone questions your lifestyle choices or implies that you’ll eventually come to your senses and come back to “reality”?

Let me know below 👇
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The fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine just dropped!

In this issue you’ll find:

• Preparedness tips, tricks and advice to help you be ready for anything on the homestead (and in life!)
•The ultimate guide to growing garlic at home and it as both food and medicine
• Drool-worthy recipes that feature garlic as the star!
• Expert advice from A Farmgirl in the Making’s Ann Accetta-Scott on what to look for (and look out for) when buying or selling a homestead property
• Advice on how to learn and grow from perceived homesteading “failures”

And more!!!

Go to modernhomesteadingmagazine.com or click the link in my bio @anna.sakawsky to subscribe or login to the library and read the latest issue if you’re already subscribed!
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