My garden, my pride!

Basic Mistakes When Growing Tomatoes

, Admin

The key to a high yield of tomatoes is not only the timely sowing of seeds for seedlings and planting them in the open field or greenhouse, but also the correct care of tomato plants throughout the growing season, until the harvest. Only if you do everything correctly and if no external circumstances - like hurricane, hail and the like - intervene, a good harvest of tasty and healthy tomatoes will be guaranteed to you. Today let's talk in detail about the main mistakes in growing tomatoes, both in the open ground and in the greenhouse. Let's learn for sure what must be done and what is undesirable or even impossible and by applying this knowledge on our plot we will get a high yield of tomatoes every year. © Bryan Sherman

First mistake. Why plant a tomato hybrid if there is a variety?!

In fact, this misconception is massive, many gardeners to this day, despite the fact that breeding work is now mostly aimed specifically at obtaining F1 hybrids, buy only variety tomato seeds. Why?

Some are simply afraid and do not understand quite a simple word hybrid, others, knowing that it simply makes no sense to collect seeds from hybrids, thus save up, growing from year to year obsolete varieties, with small fruits, mediocre taste, which mature only in some years, because usually phytophthora kills them all.

Actually the saving is more than doubtful, tomato seeds cost hardly any money by today's standards but these hybrids will give you a solid harvest and tasty fruits that very likely will ripen not on the windowsill but on bushes because they are much more resistant to many diseases and weather caprices than the old varieties.

We certainly do not advise to completely abandon the cultivation of tomato varieties on your plot, but we wish you to experiment more often, to give part of the plot to hybrids, compare, evaluate, make conclusions...

The second mistake. Seeds from tomato hybrids also sprout?!

Certainly they sprout, and how, but there will be little use from them. It's in the first generation, when you sow tomatoes, took out of the beautiful packaging, grew such solid bushes and gave the harvest to the envy of the neighbors. But in the second - from those seeds that you isolated from the fruits of tomatoes and sowed, there will already be strong deviations. Of course, there is always a place for a miracle, and individual seedlings will produce beautiful plants, but most of them will greatly disappoint you. You want to collect seeds - grow varieties, but we have already mentioned the disadvantages of varieties above.

Basic mistakes when growing tomatoes
Tomatoes for open ground. © WebOneUK

Fault three. A tomato hybrid for the greenhouse? I don't know such a thing...

Most gardeners, planting tomato seedlings, do not even think about the fact that this variety or hybrid is recommended for growing, say, in the greenhouse or open ground. And it often comes to ridiculous things: varieties or hybrids recommended for growing in the greenhouse, grow in the open ground and vice versa.

It may seem a trifle, but it is not so simple. Say, low-growing tomatoes, they simply have nothing to do in the greenhouse, most of the space above their "head" will be empty, there is a place for high-growing varieties and hybrids. Tomato hybrids and varieties recommended for greenhouse, on the contrary, in the open ground, where there are more negative factors, will suffer from sharp jumps in day and night temperatures and from diseases, and from poor pollination when it rains.

When buying a tomato variety or hybrid, always read its description on the package; it will definitely indicate whether it is recommended for the open field or for the greenhouse; otherwise even with the best hybrid one may not get good yields.

Mistake number four. I have cucumbers and tomatoes in one and the same greenhouse!

It is wrong, at least because these plants are very different and they also have different requirements. So, for example, a cucumber for proper growth, development, and consequently for the formation of fruits needs high temperature and humidity, but a tomato does not need it at all.

Of course, you can always try to divide the greenhouse in two, making something like a communal apartment, but then you have to do and separate door and window, because tomatoes love frequent aeration and drafts are not particularly afraid, but cucumbers exactly the opposite ...

All the same, and treatment will be done not simultaneously, and at different times, because the disease the plants are different, and therefore, and preparations and timing of treatment too must be different. Do you need it?

Basic mistakes when growing tomatoes
Tomatoes planted in greenhouse. © Claire

Fifth mistake. Film is film...

Since we're talking about the hothouse, let's continue: the choice of film is an important part of successful tomato growing. Most gardeners want something cheaper and simpler, and hopefully they will have a good harvest. In fact, the film for greenhouse is almost half of the success. For example, the thickest film that costs more, but serves a careful host for two or three consecutive seasons is not really good for tomato growing: condensation forms on this film, it drips on the leaves and creates an atmosphere favorable to the development of phytophthora of tomatoes.

The ideal variant is a hydrophilic non-stabilized film which also forms condensate on the inside, but it doesn't drop and runs down without getting on leaves and fruits. Besides, such a film is cleaned better by rains, dust does not accumulate on it, and it "holds" the temperature better.

Mistake six.

It's another common mistake of gardeners: they're afraid of return frosts and wanting to plant tomatoes already with fruit, keep the seedlings until planting for a very long time. In fact, planting overgrown tomato seedlings or planting normal seedlings, but late, given the late sowing, leads to delays in growth and development, and therefore a decrease in yield and its quality. Tomato fruits just do not have time to mature properly and fall in the late summer and even autumn unripe, what quality and taste can we talk about? The more I plant, the more I gather!

A small vegetable garden is a problem for many people, so dacha owners try to "cram" everything and more into a modest sotka. Alas, it does not pass in vain with any crop, such as tomato - with dense planting it grows worse, it blooms poorly, ties less fruit, and gets sick more often: because the moisture does not evaporate, the air does not circulate and all diseases spread quickly through the leaves - they do not need to go far...

When planting tomatoes, to correctly calculate the planting scheme it is necessary to start with the growth of the bush of a particular variety or hybrid. For example, high-growing tomatoes, of course, need to be planted less often and per square meter of open ground or greenhouse should be planted only four pieces if the soil is nutritious and three - if moderately nutritious.

The medium-grown plants, which can still be grown in addition to the open ground and in the greenhouse, can be planted in the number of four or five pieces on the same area, but the dwarfs, which are appropriate to grow only in the open ground, can be planted and six per square meter of soil.

Specific planting schemes for dwarfs - 30 by 60 cm (between plants and between tomato bushes, respectively), for medium-growing - 35 by 70-75 cm and for strong-growing - 40-45 by 60 cm.

Genuine gardeners, however, have invented how to save some space without damaging the yield: they do the so-called double planting, that is, on beds half a meter wide, they plant tomatoes in two rows but in staggered order, but the distance between such double beds should be 75-85 cm.

Basic mistakes when growing tomatoes
Towing outgrown tomato seedlings in the ground. © Rachael & Jonathan Worsley

Mistake eighth. Tomato plants need to be shaped, but many gardeners are terribly sorry to pluck seemingly powerful and potentially productive side shoots and pinch the crown, and the result is a very bush or bush without fruit or with little fruit.

According to the fact that a tomato plant usually does not form more than four brushes with fruits in the open ground, immediately after the fourth brush and a couple of leaves after it, you should pinch the stem, thereby removing the unnecessary point of growth.

Read our in-depth article: Shaping tomatoes - Stemming

Mistake number nine. Tie it tight!

This mistake is extremely common. When tying a tomato stem to a trellis, gardeners usually pull the stems too tight with the twine, which leads to disturbances in the normal growth and development of the stem, the formation of tightening, and sometimes to stem breakage. To prevent overtightening, it is necessary to wrap the twine around the stem and not the stem of the tomato when twisting.

Mistake ten. Passing? I'll make it!"

Another common mistake of gardeners is delaying the removal of tomato side shoots that grow from the axils of the leaf, i.e., stems. Optimal is to remove the stems when they reach a length of three or four centimeters, but no more, because the plant, all the time while the stems are growing, will actively use moisture and nutrients to grow and develop these unnecessary parts.

When plucking tomato stems, some also make mistakes, leaving their parts, that is stumps. You should not do this, but rather pluck the stems as a whole and do this in the morning and if possible in dry weather without rain or fog.

If you do this, the wound left after removing the tomato stalk will quickly heal. If you leave the stumps from the stems, that is, remove the stems only partially, various microorganisms, often pathogens, can settle on their surface and begin to actively reproduce.

Fault eleven. I remove more leaves - nutrition goes to the fruit!

This is a common misconception, although there is still a little truth in it. Defoliation, or removal of the leaf plates of tomatoes can indeed contribute somewhat to increased fruit weight and faster ripening, but only if the lowest leaves are removed, but not others. If you remove all the leaves indiscriminately, especially after irrigation or rain, as many do, then the evaporation area will be greatly reduced, the basic processes of photosynthesis will slow down, and rather than nutrition, more moisture will go to the fruit, which is likely to cause them to crack, against a background of a changed for the worse taste.

Without fear for the plant, you can remove the bottom three leaves, especially if there is an excessive amount of moisture in the soil, and also cut off those leaves that have turned yellow, therefore "not working", as well as damaged leaf plates, on which can settle the infection. Do not forget that you can not remove more than three tomato leaves at a time, it is better to postpone the operation to the next day if you need to remove more.

Read our detailed material: Do I need to cut the lower leaves of tomatoes?

Basic mistakes when growing tomatoes
Gartering and grafting tomato

Mistake twelfth. The more nutrition, the larger the fruit!

Another extremely common mistake is violating all possible timing and dosages when applying tomato fertilizer. Generally, the excess nutrition leads to excessive "greasing" of plants, they form very powerful shoots, massive leaves and completely forget about what must form fruits.

For example, the active greasing is observed when applying manure to tomatoes. In addition to an excess of nutrients there can also be a lack of nutrients, so, for example, gardeners do not always pay attention to the presence of important trace elements in the soil, such as, for example, magnesium. The lack of magnesium in the soil negatively affects the leaf plates, yellow areas appear between the veins, photosynthesis is disrupted, yield and quality decrease.

First, with a lack of magnesium, the lower leaves suffer, and then necrosis moves higher. If you notice the typical signs of magnesium starvation on tomatoes, then immediately conduct foliar feeding with 4-5% magnesium sulfate solution at weekly intervals, until the symptoms are completely eliminated.

Mistake thirteenth. More water - the tomatoes will be sweeter!

I guess everyone has heard such advice from a neighbor? But is he right? Of course not: too much moisture does not like any plant, including tomatoes, and both in the open air and in the greenhouse, contrary to the popular belief. All you achieve by flooding tomatoes is the appearance of root rot and a series of fungal diseases on the leaves and fruits.

Wetting tomatoes in the closed ground should be carried out every week, and in the open - depending on the presence of rain: if there are no, then twice a week, if there is - less often. Watering should be infrequent but abundant, and you should use settled water at room temperature and pour it under the bush, not over the leaves.

Certainly, moisture is important, especially in the first 10-12 days after planting, but you should not allow the soil to dry out: you need to stick to the golden mean. If you grow tomatoes in a country house where you go once a week on weekends, and you are afraid that the summer heat can dry out the soil so much that the tomatoes will not survive until the next weekend, then after watering be sure to mulch the soil, i.e. cover it.

You can use literally anything as mulch - humus, dry soil, covering material of white color, cut grass or even ordinary sheets of paper or newspapers.

And remember one interesting feature of tomatoes - they themselves can signal whether they have enough moisture or not. So, if the edges of the leaves begin to curl up, forming a boat, it means there is not enough moisture and they need to be watered urgently, if on the contrary - they curl, directing the tips of the leaves down, then water them while it is not necessary, there is a lot of moisture in the soil. As for watering rates, the older the plant, the more moisture it needs. Depending on the age, the rates increase from three liters to five under each bush.

Fourteenth mistake. It is the common mistake of all gardeners to close the greenhouse tightly before leaving the country and open it after a week, only for the next weekend. It seems to be right, but the fruits are formed in this case for some reason very little. In fact, the high temperature and lack of cooling in the form of fresh air leads to the fact that tomatoes simply clump pollen grains and banal does not pollinate, and no pollination - no fruit.

If you are growing vegetables in the country, where you visit occasionally, then try to plant there not tomatoes, but cucumbers, especially parthenocarpic hybrids, which do not need pollination at all. In all other cases, you will have to open the greenhouse to reduce the temperature in it.

Basic mistakes when growing tomatoes
Watering and spraying tomatoes. © Esperanza33

Fifteenth mistake. Means of protection?

Why indeed, because the fruits can be picked green as soon as the plants "cover" with phytophthora and try to finish to get "maroon wonders" of mediocre taste. Seriously, tomatoes should be treated every 10-12 days, both in the greenhouse and in the open ground. It is great if you use biological preparations for this, which can protect the plants without harming the environment.

In the case where biological preparations can no longer save you, you can use various folk remedies or preparations based on copper, and if that does not help, then resort to the help of fungicides and insecticides, be sure to follow the instructions on the package, without exceeding the dose and without violating the terms of treatment.

Read our detailed material: Tomato phytophthora. Prevention and control measures

Closure. That's actually all the mistakes that can be made when growing tomatoes, if you still have questions, then write to us in the comments, we will try to answer them in detail.