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Are you seeking some secret techniques and strategies to maximize the yield of delicious tomatoes from your plants this year?
Tomato enthusiasts hold a special place for these plants. Not only are tomato plants the favored choice for vegetable cultivation, but their versatility is unparalleled. The possibilities they offer are truly astounding, spanning from delectable salads, and invigorating juices, to the simple pleasure of slicing and savoring them fresh.
Yet, their role extends beyond these basic uses, serving as a vital ingredient for an array of creations such as homemade salsa, sauces, ketchup, chili, sun-dried tomatoes, and much more. This highlights the significance of obtaining an abundant harvest from your plants.
So, what does it entail to maintain robust and high-yielding plants throughout the entire season? As you will discover in the following sections, proper irrigation and fertilization undoubtedly play pivotal roles in achieving success. However, there are additional invaluable insights and strategies that might pleasantly surprise you when it comes to enhancing your plants’ productivity.
With these considerations in mind, presented below are five substantial tips to propel your plants into producing an unprecedented abundance of tomatoes this upcoming summer!
5 Tips To Keep Tomato Plants Producing In The Summer
Before delving into our advice, it’s crucial to recognize that tomatoes come in two types: determinate and indeterminate. The choice of type dictates whether they will thrive throughout the entire season.
Determinate tomatoes (Roma tomatoes serve as a prime example) yield and ripen their entire crop within a compact three to four-week timeframe. These varieties are particularly advantageous for those inclined toward preservation. Their concentrated yield is perfect for amassing a sizable harvest in a brief period, facilitating easy storage.
However, after this prolific phase, regardless of the amount of water or fertilizer applied, they will naturally cease to thrive. Frequently, gardeners mistakenly assume that their determinate tomatoes have succumbed to blight or disease when in reality, it’s merely the natural conclusion of a determinate plant’s lifecycle.
Contrastingly, indeterminate tomatoes maintain their productivity throughout the summer. Most heirloom and larger tomato variants fall into this category. Their ongoing output is significantly influenced by the level of care provided. For indeterminate types, this journey commences with ensuring they receive adequate water!
#1 Water Smart
Tomato plants rely on water to initiate blossoms and yield fruit. During the summer, one of the simplest methods to hinder or cease fruit production is to let the plant experience complete dehydration.
Tomato plants necessitate around one to two inches of water weekly. If natural rainfall falls short of this requirement, manual watering becomes imperative. However, the approach to watering is equally important. Rather than providing small amounts of water daily, it’s better to water your plants deeply a few times each week.
Optimal results are achieved through deep watering every three to four days. This practice encourages the roots of the plants to grow deeply, affording them protection against heat and drought. When watering, fully mature plants should receive approximately a gallon of water per session.
Crucially, when watering, focus on the base of the plants rather than drenching them directly. Spraying water onto plants can dislodge blooms, induce mildew and mold growth, and even cause sunburn on foliage. It also leads to unnecessary evaporation, squandering a significant portion of your watering endeavors.
#2 Fertilize Smart
Maintaining plant productivity during the summer hinges on effective fertilization. As the season progresses, plants deplete much of the nutrients initially present in the soil. Without a fresh supply of nutrients, both production and plant well-being will deteriorate.
However, the key to successful fertilization lies in the method and composition of the feed. Liquid fertilizers are optimal for summer nourishment. They are capable of absorption through both the soil and roots, as well as via the plant’s foliage.
When opting for liquid fertilizer, prioritize those with higher levels of phosphorous and potassium in comparison to nitrogen. While nitrogen promotes early growth, phosphorous and potassium play a paramount role in fostering blossoms and fruit.
Over-applying nitrogen during the summer can lead to excessive greenery, causing the plant to generate more branches and leaves at the expense of bloom and fruit production. Product Affiliate Link: JR Peters 51324 Jack’s Classic 12-15-30 Tomato Feed
#3 Pick Your Tomatoes Before They Fully Ripen
While the fantasy of plucking a flawlessly ripe tomato straight from the vine is universal, it’s wiser to harvest your tomatoes before they achieve full ripeness.
The longer a maturing fruit remains on the vine, the more susceptible it becomes to pests and diseases. Witnessing a seemingly perfect tomato in the making only to see it deteriorate is undeniably disheartening. Additionally, the extended presence of a tomato on the plant leads to continued nutrient and energy consumption.
Surprisingly, once a tomato begins a slight color change, it no longer necessitates remaining on the vine for maturity. In fact, it’s far more advantageous to pick it and allow it to ripen in a sheltered space like a covered porch, away from direct sunlight. This approach guarantees fewer blemishes on the fruit and enables the plant to conserve energy for further tomato production!
Typically, we gather our tomatoes about four to five days before they reach full ripeness. We then let them complete the ripening process on a DIY drying rack situated on our back porch.
This rack is fashioned from hardware cloth and a few untreated 2 x 4’s. It offers a touch of extra protection for the ripening tomatoes and, importantly, removes them from the plant. The hardware cloth ensures proper airflow, enabling full ripening on all sides.
Avoid refrigerating them for ripening at all costs. The cold temperatures halt the ripening process and adversely affect their flavor!
#4 Pick Often
Apart from early harvesting, frequent picking can significantly impact the number of tomatoes your plant yields within a single season.
Having an abundance of fruit on a plant not only consumes vital nutrients and resources but also hinders further production. When indeterminate varieties are burdened with excessive produce, they tend to reduce or even halt the development of new blossoms.
This behavior is aimed at ripening the existing fruit still hanging on the plant, although this fruit often ripens better when removed from the plant!
#5 Keep Weeds Out
Lastly, make sure to heavily mulch your plants and diligently eliminate weeds! Weeds pose a significant threat to the overall well-being of tomato plants.
During the summer months, tomato plants require maximum nutrients and water to sustain fruit production. If weeds overrun your plants, these nutrients are diverted to the weeds.
Furthermore, weeds provide a favorable environment for pests to thrive and reproduce, as well as serve as a breeding ground for diseases. Remember, allowing this year’s weeds to propagate and go to seed only compounds next year’s problem.
Lastly, don’t hesitate to do some pruning on your tomato plants to enhance their strength and manage their growth. We personally prune the lower parts of our plants, leaving 12 to 18 inches clear. This not only simplifies watering but also promotes improved airflow.