A big part of tomato cultivation is staking and pruning, but the vines also need feeding and care.
Tomato plants require at least six hours of late-morning and afternoon sunlight.
Well-prepared growing beds are critical, because deep soil enriched with organic matter will give the roots the oxygen and even moisture and temperature that they need. Plants in compost-enriched soil need less feeding. A 2-inch-thick mulch of straw will help retain the moisture and keep weeds back. Don't use shredded hardwood mulch.
Feeding: Incorporate one-third of a cup of garden limestone or bonemeal into the soil when planting, to provide the calcium the fruit needs. Some gardeners use crushed eggshells. If you haven't done this, scratch in some limestone or bonemeal around the plant now.
Never miss a local story.
Add balanced fertilizer when planting (such as 5-5-5) but use a low-nitrogen, higher-phosphate feed after flowering. Three tablespoons per vine every two weeks is fine, worked into the soil. If you use synthetic fertilizers, keep the granules away from the stem. Some gardeners like to give a feed weekly of diluted liquid fish fertilizer emulsion.
Watering: Always try to water the roots, not the leaves, and don't use an overhead sprinkler. Soak the soil at least once a week, and don't rely on rain to do the job. Soul should be moist to the touch but not saturated.
Container-grown tomato plants might need watering once a day in the height of summer. Containers must drain, so don't place a saucer beneath the pot. Water until you see liquid flowing from the drain hole.
Problems: A big problem is leaf diseases. Tomato plants can get early blight, which causes leaves to develop yellow circles with brown centers. You can minimize this by laying mulch and snipping off leaves as they discolor, from the ground upward. Discard them and avoid touching healthy leaves.
Late blight is more serious. It is announced by the presence of dark lesions on leaves and stems. The plant will wilt and die. Afflicted plants should be pulled.
If the fruit develops a black rot at the base, it is suffering from blossom end rot caused by calcium deficiency and uneven watering. Remove those fruits.