Tips for Beautiful Tomatoes

Granted, it’s still a little early to be planting tomatoes in the ground in some parts of Canada, but here are a few tips to help you when the time comes.

Tomate rouge Celebrity
The ‘Celebrity’ red tomato is disease-resistant. Source: Botanix

Buy Disease-Resistant Tomato Plants

True tomato maniacs always grow their own plants from seed and have taken care to choose resistant varieties, but the average gardener buys plants… and is often taken in by non-productive plants. Local merchants are not always very good at identifying their tomato plants, and often only identify them as “beefsteak” (large-fruited) or “cherry tomato” (small-fruited), which is of no use to the gardener. Ideally, go to a dealer who knows the names of his plants, and who can direct you not only to delicious, disease-resistant tomatoes. The ultimate resource is a dealer who identifies his plants with a label bearing the cultivar name and also mentions its resistances, such as ‘Celebrity’ VFNT or ‘First Lady’ VFNT. These four letters indicate a plant resistant to 4 problems: verticillium wilt (V), fusarium wilt (F), nematodes (N) and tobacco mosaic (T). After all, why treat disease rather than prevent it?

Crop Rotation

It’s so easy. Change the location of your tomatoes every summer, otherwise the soil in which they grow may become infested with disease. Even places where you’ve grown other Solanaceae (peppers, potatoes, etc.) should be avoided. After 5 years, however, you can reuse the first spot.

Plants de tomates
Photo: fotokostic

Apply Mycorrhizae

There are more and more problems with alternaria in tomatoes. This disease (in fact, a very old disease that is coming back to haunt us) causes black lesions on the fruit just before ripening. At present, only a few tomatoes are resistant to the disease, but I noticed that tomatoes on which I had applied mycorrhizae did not develop the disease, and untreated plants did. Mycorrhizae are beneficial fungi that form a symbiosis with plant roots, enhancing nutrient uptake. In any case, mycorrhizae stimulate tomatoes to produce better, so applying them is useful. So why take the risk?

Use Red Mulch

Yes, as curious as it may seem, tomato plants planted in red plastic mulch (available on the market) are more productive than plants with no mulch or black mulch. The red color of the mulch reflects a wavelength of light that stimulates fruit growth.

Planter vos tomates profondément
You can bury tomato stems when transplanting. Illustration: Claire Tournigny, from the book Les 1500 trucs du jardinier paresseux

Plant Tomatoes Horizontally

The tomato has the ability to produce additional roots on its stem if buried. For particularly strong plants, therefore, dig a planting hole lengthwise, remove the lower leaves and lay the plant in it, leaving only the leafy end protruding. Cover with soil and water well.

Be Consistent in Your Care

Finally, for the rest of the summer, take good care of your tomatoes. In particular, apply mulch and water as needed to ensure that the plant never runs out of liquid. This way, you’ll have better-looking plants and fewer problems with blossom end rot and cracking, both caused by periods of drought followed by over-watering.

Good luck with your tomatoes this summer!

Larry Hodgson published thousands of articles and 65 books over the course of his career, in both French and English. His son, Mathieu, has made it his mission to make his father’s writings accessible to the public. This text was originally published in Le Soleil newspaper.

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

0 comments on “Tips for Beautiful Tomatoes

Leave a Reply

Sign up for the Laidback Gardener blog and receive articles in your inbox every morning!