Don'ts Tips for Growing Tomatoes


1. Don’t water from above. Doing so encourages water born pathogens and spreads disease.

2. Don’t Overcrowd. Tomato seedlings need plenty of room to grow and will be stunted if they are over crowded. The same is true for mature plants. The size of a mature tomato plant is about 3 feet in diameter, so don’t plant young plants a foot apart.

3. Don’t forget tomato cages. While a tall stake will work okay, tomato plants can get very large and will benefit from having a tomato cage around them to keep sprawling stems off the ground.

4. Don’t wait too long to stake. I place my stakes in at the time that I plant the seedlings. I won’t damage the roots if I do this and the stems will be ready to tie up as the plant grows.

5. Don’t forget that critters like tomatoes too! If you have followed my blog, you will know of my exploits with the squirrels. Nothing is worse than seeing a dozen half ripe tomatoes on the ground with a bite out of each one. See my tips for dealing with squirrels. Hint…they don’t like cayenne pepper!

6. Don’t over-fertilize. Doing so will often result in bushy tomato plants with few flowers and flowers are what makes tomatoes later.

7. Don’t go for seedlings with flowers. You may think this will give you a head start on the growing season but the opposite is the case. Go for strong root systems and healthy looking stems. The flowers will come soon enough. (The same goes for flowering plants – why buy those already in flower? Enjoy them in your garden, not at the garden center!)

8. Don’t plant too early. Tomatoes are best if the soil temperature is consistently above 50º F outside. And make sure to measure the temp down a ways into the soil. 6 inches doesn’t sound like a lot, but think of where the roots are!

9. Don’t be impatient. The sweetest tomatoes are those that grow on the vine as long as possible. Don’t be in a hurry to take them off too early. If any fall off the vine, see my tips for ripening green tomatoes.

10. Don’t panic at the end of the season. If you have plants left and a frost is threatening at season end, pull up the whole plant, tomatoes and all and hang upside down in a garage or basement. The fruit will continue to ripen.

11. Don’t store tomatoes in the fridge. Doing so will spoil the taste and take away much of the sweetness that you are looking for. See this tip for sweet tomatoes.

Sun-ripened tomatoes deliver the taste of summer in every bite all summer long. Plant just a few healthy plants and you will ensure the production of buckets of this delicious fruit.
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