There are million videos & posts from expert gardeners on how to grow a tomato plant that bears tomatoes, in case you haven’t already done your own search.
Here’s one more.
This is my two cents on how to grow a tomato plant that actually bears tomatoes.
And it actually works.
My post in February, Grow Stuff, detailed a little of how my former neighbor and dear friend, JoAnn, enlightened my world with the wonder of gypsum.
Full disclosure: I have no idea what gypsum actually is.
Hey, at least I’m honest, right?
All I know, for sure, is that gypsum is crucial in growing tomato plants that will give you a ton of tomatoes.
(Not literally, unless you’re growing acres of tomato plants.)
Backyard gardeners, like JoAnn, know a thing or two about growing tomatoes.
In fact, JoAnn’s tomato plants bore so many tomatoes that she and her friends canned tomatoes for two days straight.
Those ladies came away with DOZENS of quarts of canned tomatoes.
Enough to last all seven of them the entire winter and then some.
Let’s get to the nitty gritty on how to grow a tomato plant that bears tomatoes!
Whether you grow your tomato plants from seeds (which is what I’m doing this year) or buy them from a greenhouse (or hardware store), it’s important that your plants are healthy and strong.
What the heck does that mean?
It means that your plants should be about 6-8 inches tall, and have a strong stem that easily supports the leaves on the plant.
Yep, don’t plant the tomato plant outside, unless it’s tall and has leaves.
If you’ve got “starters” growing inside — like I do — start them off in pods and then transplant, as they continue to grow.
If you started several seeds in each pod, and they’ve all decided to take off — like what’s happening in my windowsill — then you’re going to be doing some transplanting and separating, long before you get these little guys in the ground outside.
Start the seedlings.
When they’re about 3″ tall, separate them into individual containers.
Keep them under the grow light — indoors — until they reach 6″-8″ tall.
This is going to take about eight weeks.
If you live in a cold climate — like, say, North freakin’ Dakota — then this will work out wonderfully, since you can’t plant anything outdoors safely until after Memorial Day.
Yep, you read that correctly.
Thank your lucky stars if you’re living in a warmer climate, and then please invite me to come and live with you.
(Two adorable dogs included! We’re a package deal!)
Back to how to grow a tomato plant that bears tomatoes:
When you’re ready to plant outside, you must first decide if you’re planting in the ground or in pots.
I grow my tomato plants in large pots.
JoAnn grows her tomatoes in her garden, which means that you will also have to till your soil and enrich it.
JoAnn uses compost that she tills into the soil, as well as gypsum in the individual “holes” that she plants her tomato plants in.
In the pots, I use Miracle Gro soil, as well as gypsum in the bottom of the hole.
Either way, you’ve got to ensure that you got good soil and gypsum when you plant.
Pick an area that gets plenty of direct sunlight.
Tomato plants LOVE, LOVE, LOVE direct sunlight.
When you plant the tomato plants, you must also ensure that you have stakes, tomato cages or a trellis for each plant and secure the plant.
This gives the plant something to “climb” as it continues to grow.
I grew cherry tomatoes last year, and I used stakes and tomato cages.
This year, I plan to use a trellis system so the plants can just go crazy, as they grow and climb.
Keep the soil moist, but don’t drown the little guys.
Plant food — I use Miracle Gro tomato plant food — helps tremendously, too.
The smaller the plant, the less water and plant food required.
As your plants start to take off and your little tomatoes start to pop out, you’ll increase your watering and plant food delivery.
When your plants get big and have tons of tomatoes hanging on the vine, in the process of ripening, you may have to water twice a day, and deliver plant food at least once a week.
You’ll need to “pinch off” or trim the “suckers,” to ensure the water and nutrients are being delivered to the fruit, and not being “fed” to growing new branches.
What’s a sucker?
Suckers are small shoots that will eventually grow into a branch and produce leaves and fruit, if left alone.
As your plants grow and get heavy with tomatoes, you’ll want to trim the top of them to keep the water and nutrients flowing to the fruit.
When you do this, ensure that you cut off the main stems of the plant at the top, but leave enough foliage to provide shade to the fruit.
The first time I “pruned” my cherry tomato plants, last summer, it looked like I scalped them.
They were growing so well, by then, that my hack job didn’t harm them.
You’ll get the hang of it.
Cut a little, in the morning on a warm, dry day.
And then, if you think they need a little more, cut some more the next day.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I find growing tomatoes extremely cathartic.
All you need is good soil, gypsum, sun, water, plant food and strong, healthy tomato plants.
It doesn’t get any easier than that.
As they say, “Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes.”