More Tomato Tips

June 2, 2007

I recently shared some of my favorite tips for growing tomatoes, but I like receiving a good tip just as much as anyone and today it’s your turn.

Following are some terrific homegrown ideas for growing tomatoes picked from your very own gardens!

Tomato Volunteers

Evelyn, who grows her tomatoes in the state of Alabama, shared the following tip regarding an easy way to obtain free tomato plants without planting a single seed:

“I enjoyed reading your article (newsletter) on tomatoes. I live in Alabama, we had a mild winter and my husband and I got an early start on our spring garden. The tomatoes from last year reseeded in the garden; so we had enough plants to transplant and give some away early in the spring. My tomatoes are doing very well.”

Evelyn, it’s great to hear that your tomatoes are growing well. I have volunteer tomato plants sprouting up from seed depositd by last year’s tomato plants also. Typically it’s only the cherry tomato varieties that readily reseed themselves in my garden beds and they do grow like weeds.

Epsom Salts and Tomato Plants?

No, these salts aren’t for seasoning your tomatoes, but rather to provide nutrients to the plants. John Martens was looking for confirmation and an explanation regarding the usefulness of adding Epsom Salts to the soil when planting tomatoes in the garden.

“I live in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario – Zone 4 so we’re not transplanting tomatoes yet – maybe next week. I read where adding a teaspoon of Epsom salts to each hole where you transplant a tomato will help. Is this true and why will it help?”

John, I don’t use Epsom Salts on my tomatoes but know of gardeners that apply it as a source of additional magnesium. There’s some debate over the effectiveness and whether it can create an imbalance if your soil already contains adequate levels of magnesium. Applying a little Epsom Salts probably won’t hurt but I prefer to use compost and earthworm castings to give my transplants an extra boost.

Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Tom Sawyer sent in the following tips that he uses to grow tomatoes and other vegetables in slightly modified trash containers:

“Kenny, I live in the Atlanta area and plant all my garden plants in thirty gallon trash cans with 4 quarter inch holes drilled in the bottom for drainage. I fill them with Mircle-Gro Potting soil and water in. I have been doing this for several years and get bumper crops.”

“I have averaged about a bushel of tomatoes from each plant. I use the Bush variety plant. I get no weeds, very few insects, and make all my neighbors and co-workers happy and tomato filled all season. I was even picking them at Christmas time last year. I also grow green bell peppers and eggplant the same way except they are in smaller containers.”

“I do use cages over the tomatoes. Large spreading plants such as squash do not seem to fair well in containers so I gave them up. I have two large wooden pallets in my back yard that everything is on. The plants get full sun from around ten in the morning until almost sundown.”

This just goes to show that you don’t need a huge backyard in order to have a terrific garden. Yep, even a fancy gourmet tomato will be perfectly happy and content sprawling out of a “trashy” container.

Great Tomato Companion

An Australian gardener offered up a good companion to grow alongside of your tomato plants:

“Hi, thank you for your gardening tips. As I am in Australia, I guess we have different climatic conditions to apply to. I have recently planted a few tomatoes and it is the start of winter but we do not get a real cold winter season here and consequently no frosts.”

“But I will try your (red) plastic method. Also I don’t know if your members know of this tip… plant basil next to your tomato plants to keep the bugs away. Cheers!” – Bev Hobson

That’s an interesting match… tomatoes and basil make a great twosome not only in the kitchen, but also in the garden!

Tomato Growing Secrets from France

It appears the U.S. isn’t the only country where the tomato is popular, here’s another tomato tip from overseas, this one’s imported from France:

“Thanks so much for your great gardening secrets emails and I’m very impressed with the web page. Thought you might like to know about some ideas that the French use for growing tomatoes.”

“When planting outside, put some nettle leaves in the bottom of the hole. When fruit starts to set, fertilize with comfrey tea. This is made by cutting the tops off comfrey plants and soaking in rain water for a week. Strain and use diluted by 10 per cent. Regards, Gill Howl.”

I allow Comfrey and Stinging Nettles to grow nearby as beneficial garden companions, but I’ll have to try Gill’s suggestion for using them as an amendment and tea to enhance the growth of tomato plants.

Calling All Homegrown Tomato Tips 

Thank you for all the great tomato tips that were sent in. I know there are other unique and useful tomato cultivation ideas out there so take a second to add your own special gardening tip for growing tomatoes in the comments section below and don’t forget to include your location. Thanks!!!

Other Related Vegetable Gardening Posts:

  • Check out wikipedia for some more info on comfrey tea.

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  • Gina

    Hi I have a garden full of green tomatoes any Ideas on how to get them to turn red ? right now they are falling off the vines but they are still green

  • Toodgie

    HI;We live in Arizona; and have a raised garden;Well this year is the first time we have tried {Epson salts} and i can’t believe how great it has helped our garden; {tomato plants are huge} and loaded with tomatoes and blooms galore…Helps the entire garden…But my 93 year old {Precious} aunt Patty; whose yard is like a botanical garden, said there is a special secrete to using {Epson Salt}…Mix 50-50 with granulated sugar…put (1) table spoon mixed into soil per plant, and add (1) teaspoon every (2) weeks or so, always water good…

  • roy

    to gina, green tomato problem….tomatoes like other veggies want to produce seed for reproduction….they live for that and strive for that reason…maybe, just maybe a little stress on tomato plant will cause them to kick in gear to ripen and produce seeds…
    use your mind and others minds to accomplish this….one man hurried his tomatoes along to ripen early by using a spade shovel to shock his plants…on one side of plant he buried the shovel straight down, probably about 10 to 15 inches from plant….plants got busy…hope this helps someone, just remember their goal is to reproduce…..

  • roy

    all gardeners should google biochar in garden….terra prata….will make garden more productive with less fertilizer and water…gets better as years roll by…thks roy

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