According to The World’s Healthiest Foods Magazine, Tomatoes are excellent source of vitamin C, biotin, molybdenum and vitamin K. They are also a very good source of copper, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin B6, folate, niacin, vitamin E and phosphorus.
Additionally, they are a good source of chromium, pantothenic acid, protein, choline, zinc and iron. These 22 total nutrient rankings for tomato actually places this amazing vegetable right alongside of a vegetable like kale in terms of total nutrient rankings. Besides the healthy benefits, tomatoes are a big source of income because it’s rare to find a meal without them.
What are some of the secrets and tips for growing great tomatoes, increasing your yields and producing better-tasting fruit?
- Garden Spacing
Tomatoes should be set 30 to 48 inches apart in a row with the rows spaced 48 inches apart. It’s very tempting to put tomatoes closer at planting time, but if you get them too close you’ll only increase the chance of disease.
- Early Pest Prevention
Wrap the tomato stems with a piece of cardboard or wax paper that extends an inch above and below the soil to protect them from cutworms. A regular office stapler can be used to secure the material in a circle. After the stems toughen up in 3 to 4 weeks cutworm damage will no longer be a concern and the paper will have rotted away.
Use slow release fertilizer pellets at planting time to nourish young tomatoes. Tomatoes demand lots of fertility once the fruit sets, but too much early in the season will grow a large plant but with fewer tomatoes.
To reduce transplant shock and retain warmth, use Wall O’ Water plant protectors at planting time. These devices will protect the plants from early cold spells and the drying effects of wind.
For maximum tomato yields always stake or cage your plants. Emerging fruits will benefit from improved air circulation and less ground pest problems.
Tomatoes need even watering to prevent blossom end rot. Water thoroughly but not too often (twice per week should suffice at first) and try to water early in the day so that plants will dry off before evening. This helps to reduce disease problems. Using drip or soaker hose irrigation is the best idea. Water is used more efficiently this way and the leaves don’t get wet.
Mulching can help to insure an even supply of moisture is available to the tomato plant. Try putting down a layer of newspaper 5 to 10 sheets thick between the rows (soak the papers in water first, so they won’t blow away) and then cover the newspapers with dry grass clippings, bark mulch, etc. Something new in mulches is Burpee’s Red Mulch. It’s a reflective material that works like black plastic to warm the soil early in the season, and it increases production of top quality early tomatoes.
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Credit: Ministry of Agriculture