6 Hacks for Growing 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, tricks and hacks 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 Hacks 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, catfaced 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!

 


CATEGORIES
HOMESTEADING
REAL FOOD
NATURAL LIVING

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

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

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. 
You Might Also Like
DIY Peppermint Sugar Scrub Recipe

DIY Peppermint Sugar Scrub Recipe

* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.   This DIY peppermint sugar scrub is one of the quickest, easiest and frugal(ist?) homemade gifts ever. Plus you can make it entirely out of things you probably...

read more

Easy Homemade Chai Tea Mix

Easy Homemade Chai Tea Mix

* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.   I’ll be honest… I’m not a tea drinker. In fact, I could probably go the rest of my life without drinking another cup of tea and I’d be alright. But take away my...

read more

How many ways can you think of to put a greenhouse to use in the winter?

Sure, greenhouses are a great way to extend your gardening season into fall, or to create an even warmer microclimate for heat-loving crops like tomatoes and peppers in the summer, but they also provide a warm space to grow food (and ornamental flowers and plants) right through the winter months.

But that’s not the only way you can use a greenhouse year-round! To learn more about how to put an existing greenhouse to good use in the winter (or why you should consider adding a greenhouse to your property if you haven’t yet), be sure to check out the Greenhouse Effect feature in the Winter issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, written by contributor Lori Austin of @hollandgirlgfdf.

Subscribe to Modern Homesteading Magazine via the link in my bio or go to http://modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to gain instant access to this issue along with our entire digital library of past issues!

Do you have a greenhouse or are you considering one for your homestead? How do you put your greenhouse to use during the winter months?

Most importantly, have you subscribed to Modern Homesteading Magazine yet???

#wintergarden #wintergardening #greenhouse #wintergreenhouse #greenhouselife #greenhouses
...

Every year during the month of January, I challenge myself to eat as much as possible from the food that we’ve stored over the past year.

Three years ago I decided to make this a public challenge and invited anyone who wanted to participate to join me. Every year, hundreds of other homesteaders (and non-homesteaders alike!) join me in doing what has now become an annual Homestead Pantry Challenge, and this year is no different!

As homesteaders, so much of our year is spent planning and preserving food for the winter, and so it seems fitting to plan winter meals around the food we’ve worked hard to store.

Not to mention, January tends to be the time of year when most of us are feeling tapped out from the Holidays and ready to save some money, get organized and set new goals for the new year.

Kicking off the new year with a pantry challenge is a great way to accomplish all of the above goals and is, in essence, a celebration of all the hard work we’ve put into our food storage and preservation over the past year, while also showing us where we need to focus (or refocus) our efforts in the coming year.

If you haven’t joined the 2022 Homestead Pantry Challenge yet, it’s totally free to join and is VERY customizable, so even if you don’t want to eat down your entire pantry, you can still use it to get organized and put your creativity in the kitchen to the test!

In past years this challenge has been hosted mostly here on Instagram, but this year I’m hosting it via email as well for anyone who isn’t on Instagram. Due to some other personal reasons, the challenge won’t be as Instagram heavy this year, so all of the instructions, assignments, details and resources will be delivered via email when you sign up for the challenge!

You can sign up for free via the link in my bio, or by going to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/pantry-challenge/

If you’re just looking for some tips to help you eat from your pantry (at any time of year!), save money and plan meals around what you’ve got, I’ve also got a full blog post with 8 tips to help you eat from your pantry (link also in bio).

Are you participating in the Homestead Pantry Challenge this year?
...

What’s your signature holiday move?

In the winter issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, @homemakerchicpodcast hosts @shayeelliott and @parisiennefarmgirl share tips and tricks to help you become the CEO of Christmas in your own home.

From menu planning to decor to packing it all up and starting with a fresh, clean slate come January 1st (or December 27th;), get homemaking advice from the pros for the holidays (and beyond) in the latest issue!

Link in bio to subscribe @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to read the full interview and much more!
...

I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of looking out the window and seeing THIS!

For years I lived in places that had kitchens with no windows over the sink. I dreamed of having a home where I could stand in the kitchen doing dishes and look out at the world. And not just at any world, but at the NATURAL world.

I feel so at home tucked in the forest. It’s good energy out here. And it’s always beautiful, whether I’m looking out at vibrantly coloured flowers or leaves or at the Earth blanketed in snow.

My life’s a lot more mundane and humble than it used to be in my younger years when I spent most of my time travelling the world, seeing new places and meeting new friends. But today most of my joy comes from being in this place with the birds and forest critters and chickens and rabbits (and of course my family and fur babies that I share this house with!) I don’t currently feel the need to explore the world at this point in my life because there’s enough to look at right outside my window.

Today this view is what I’m grateful for. What are you grateful for today? (Remember, there’s nothing too small to be grateful for:)
...

Winter often gets a bad rap for being the coldest, darkest, dreariest season of the year, when life as we knew it in the summer ceases to exist.

But winter offers us a much-needed reprieve from the busy-ness of the rest of the year;

A time to slow down, rest, reflect and dream;

A time to give ourselves over to the projects, hobbies, crafts and activities that we just don’t seem to have time for the rest of the year;

A time to devour books, soak up knowledge, learn new skills and sharpen old ones.

The winter issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine showcases just a few of the many unique activities, projects and opportunities that this season affords us the time to immerse ourselves in.

Here’s what you’ll find in this issue:

✨ Inspiration and ideas to help you make the most of winter on the homestead
🌱 The many ways to put a greenhouse to use all year long
🥂Homemaking tips for the holidays (and beyond!) with Homemaker Chic podcast hosts Shaye Elliott & Angela Reed
🍴Holiday recipes & comfort foods, featuring Honey Taffy, Mulled Wine and Winter Squash
🪵 Winter woodworking tutorials with The Humble Handyman and Anne of All Trades
❄️ And more!!!

To read the full issue AND get instant access to our entire library of past issues (26 value-packed issues and counting!), click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://modernhomesteadingmagazine.com

P.S. When you subscribe during the month of December, you’ll also get a coupon code for a free one-year subscription that you can gift to someone you love!

Give the gift of self-sufficiency this Christmas —> https://modernhomesteadingmagazine.com
...

We’re all familiar with eggnog, but have you ever wondered what “nog” is anyway, or how this decadent holiday drink came to be?

The general consensus is that eggnog originated in England in the 17th Century and was made with eggs, milk and some sort of alcohol (aka. “nog”).

It may have even been enjoyed earlier than this, as a similar beverage called posset (a hot, milky, ale-based drink) has origins dating back to the 13th century.

As I was researching this topic, I found at least one source that claims eggnog was created by mixing alcohol with eggs and milk earlier in the season when egg and milk production was at a high. The alcohol was used to preserve the dairy products so that they could be consumed during the winter months when egg and milk production was low.

It was originally made with sherry or brandy, but when eggnog reached America it was typically spiked with rum because rum was easier to come by. Eventually some people started substituting American whiskey.

Nowadays we can drink eggnog with or without alcohol, but traditionally eggnog was always an alcoholic drink that wealthy folks (who could afford milk and eggs and alcohol) would use to toast to their prosperity.

Eggnog has remained a favourite beverage around Christmas time; One that most of us are accustomed to buying in a carton from the grocery store. But like most processed foods, store-bought eggnog is often loaded with additives like high fructose corn syrup and thickeners.

This holiday season, why not make your own eggnog instead?

All you need are fresh eggs, milk, cream, sugar and a little nutmeg (and an optional cinnamon stick) to garnish.

If eggnog is on your list of holiday must-haves but you’d rather avoid the processed grocery store stuff and make your own with fresh ingredients, you can grab the full recipe via the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or by visiting https://thehouseandhomestead.com/old-fashioned-homemade-eggnog-recipe/

What’s your position on eggnog? Do you love it or hate it? And if you spike it with alcohol, what alcohol do you prefer?
...

© The House & Homestead | All Rights Reserved | Legal