Your tomato garden will require 1 to 2 inches of water every week. Closer to 2 inches for sandy well drained soil, and closer to 1 inch for clay soils which do not drain as well. If rainfall does not supply this amount you must supplement with sprinkling or soaker hoses. One or two deep soakings per week is more effective than many light sprinklings.

Should your garden soil be healthy and rich with organic matter, no additional fertilizer would be necessary at time of planting. However, to ensure sweet, succulent tomatoes, side-dress with 2 tablespoonfuls of 10-10-10 slow release granular fertilizer two weeks after transplanting. Again after the first yellow flowers, when the fruits reach the size of ping-pong balls, and after the first ripe tomato.Tomato Plant Stakes

While tomatoes in windy regions do better when kept close to the ground, most tomato plants do better if kept off the soil surface. When supported tomatoes receive more direct sunlight, allows for easier maintenance and harvesting, and saves space in the garden. Staking and pruning plants by removing “suckers” and foliage can result in an earlier harvest of higher quality fruit and can reduce some disease and pest problems such as blight, rotting and slug damage. In addition to these advantages staked plants produce larger fruit than a plant which is not pruned.

The most popular methods for supporting tomatoes are staking, caging and trellising. Most tomatoes that are supported are also pruned, but not all. Determinate tomato plants should not be pruned, but pruning goes hand in hand with staking large indeterminates. You should remove “suckers”- shoots that sprout where the leafy branches meet the main stem. This encourages the growth of the central stem and increases fruit production. It also helps to prevent disease by improving air circulation. When your plants grow large enough you may choose to cage them rather than stake them. There is less work involved with caging, but staking typically produces larger fruit. With caging you simply place a cage over/around the plant. The only thing you have to monitor is to make sure the branches are above their closest cage wire rather than under it. This ensures support for that branch when it does produce tomatoes.

Be sure that whatever support system you choose is sturdy enough to support the plants you’re growing, and get it set up when the plants are still young to avoid damaging their roots.

Tomato Plant Stakes