It’s hard to top a juicy, home grown, vine ripened heirloom tomato, but if you’re not careful when growing tomatoes you may wind up with leggy plants and few tomatoes.
Jerry discovered this the hard way as he commented: “Kenny, I would like to see some tips on growing tomatoes, how deep should I plant them, and why do I get tall plants and no fruit, please advise me?”
This is a common complaint from gardeners growing tomatoes; beautiful plants reaching for the tree tops, but few tomato fruits to show for it.
There’s nothing wrong with tall tomato vines if you can devise adequate tomato supports, but if they’re all vine and no fruit the problem is usually the result of over fertilization and feeding the plants too much nitrogen.
Nitrogen promotes rapid plant leaf growth but when over applied to fruiting plants such as tomatoes the result is excessive leaf production at the expense of flowering and fruit production.
If the damage is already done and you have overly lush tomato foliage you may be able to coax additional fruiting by applying a foliar fertilizer that is low in nitrogen and high in phosphorous to encourage flowering and tomato production.
The long term solution for the tomato problem is to reduce the amount of nitrogen applied to the area of the garden where your tomatoes will be planted. Use mature compost rather than nitrogen rich manures around the tomato plants.
Gardens Alive also carries a natural fertilizer called Tomatoes Alive that is formulated to supply the specific nutrients that encourage fruit production in crops like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.
Regarding the question of how deep tomatoes should be planted, the answer is the deeper the better. Especially for a leggy tomato transplant, it’s a good practice to bury a significant portion of the transplants stem under the soil.
Deeper planting will allow the tomato transplant to grow stocky as it receives direct sunlight after being placed outdoors in the garden. More importantly, the plant will grow a stronger root system, as roots will develop all along the portion of the stem that is buried under the soil.
For extremely tall tomato transplants place the plant in the ground at an angle rather than straight up and down, and gently remove the leaves from the portion of the stem that will be underground.
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