Top News

Growing tomatoes can be tricky

123RF Stock Photo

All vegetables are grown differently. That seems very basic, yet novice vegetable growers discover this fact the hard way. If they were under the impression that you simply put the seeds in the ground or the already started baby plant, water regularly and a month or two later, voila, you have homegrown vegetables, they quickly discover that’s not the way it works.  

If it were only that simple. Veteran vegetable growers know that every vegetable has different growing requirements. That’s what makes growing vegetable fun and challenging. They know that some vegetables are easy to grow, others more difficult.

Tomatoes is one of my favorites for a few reasons. I didn’t call it a vegetable, because scientifically speaking it’s a fruit.

I enjoy growing tomatoes because the growing process can be tricky. All tomato plants have pretty much the same basic growing requirements.  Minimally they require six hours of sun. Eight is even better. Besides lots of sun, they ought to be grown in rich, fertile, well drained soil (slightly acidic) with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8.

There are many varieties of tomatoes. Some are easier to grow than others. Cherry tomatoes, for example, are the easiest to grow. They can be grown in containers or in the ground and don’t require much attention. Give them plenty of sun and sufficient water, and success is guaranteed.

But beefsteak tomatoes, my favourite, require monitoring and work.

Here are some helpful growing pointers for growing beefsteak tomatoes:

They require constant care because the bigger they get, the more hands-on TLC they require. They take about 90 days to mature. And the fruit size ranges from 14 to 24 ounces.  That’s a whole lot of tomato. The can grow up to12 feet, but 6 feet is normal. And if you don’t make any mistakes get ready for a sweet and succulent taste treat.   I consider success when I cut a small wedge and it’s sweet and delicious and requires no seasoning. 

Because the stems are fragile and can’t support the weight of the tomatoes, beefsteaks will topple and wind up on the ground. You can try a little DIY surgery by propping the grounded tomato and tying it to a stake or fence. The chance of bringing the plant back to life are slim, because as soon as they topple to the ground, they’re damaged and growth stops. That’s why it’s critical for your plants to be securely propped throughout the growing process.

I don’t recommend tomato cages for beefsteaks. Your chances of seeing a successful planting with cages are a lot better with tomatoes that grow 3 to5 feet. Even if you use large cages, it’s very difficult to monitor beefsteaks’ growth and secure the stems. I get better results with either stakes, wire mesh fences or against a chain link fence. For added protection, I often tie very heavy stems that look they’re tottering to fences or stakes with cord.

Water daily or every other day with a standard garden hose or soaker hose so the ground is always moist.  Don’t waste your time watering the leaves. The only place to water is the plant’s roots.

Recent Stories