Donald F, Wetherell, Extension Master Gardener and
Edmond L Marrotte, Consumer Horticulturist, University of Connecticut
Choose a planting site which will get direct sunlight most of the day. Open airy sites allow good air flow which helps reduce foliage diseases and cold air injury.
Tomatoes can be grown in most moderately to highly fertile soil types. Sandy loam soils which drain well and warm up quickly favor early crops but may require more watering in mid- to late season than heavier soils. Soil pH should be maintained in the 5.5 to 7.0 range by adding limestone as indicated by soil tests.
Tomatoes grow well in soils rich in organic matter. Well-rotted manure or thoroughly decomposed compost can be worked into the soil before planting time, at rates up to two bushels of manure or four bushels of compost per 100 square feet.
Mineral fertilizers like 5-10-10 or 10-10-10 can be broadcast and mixed into the soil just prior to planting, at rates indicated by soil tests. Do not exceed 4 pounds of 5-10-10 or one-and-one-half pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer, or equivalent amounts of another fertilizer, per 100 square feet.Varieties
This warm-season crop is available in a wide variety of plant and fruit characteristics including earliness, plant form, disease resistance, and fruit color and shape. Varieties designated determinate often have a compact bushy plant form with limited growth after fruit initiation, while indeterminate varieties continue to grow and set fruit throughout the season.
Varieties designated Fl, F2, V, etc. are resistant to various diseases. Resistance to fusarium wilts (F1,F2) and verticillium wilt (V) is especially valuable. The average number of days from time of transplanting to maturity is also frequently given for each variety.
The following varieties or hybrids are among those found suitable for Connecticut gardens:
All danger of frost must be over before tomatoes can be safely placed outdoors. In fact, chill injury may occur at temperatures below 50oF for many varieties. The average last frost date in Connecticut is mid- to late May, but varies considerably with season, location and site.
Well-developed seedlings (6 to 8 inches tall) may be transplanted into the garden when soil temperatures reach 65oF and daytime air temperatures average 55o to 60oF.
(If you grow your own seedlings, start them indoors six to eight weeks prior to the transplanting date.) Space seedlings to give five to six square feet per plant. For example, two feet apart in rows three feet wide if tomato cages are to be used. Plants which will be staked and pruned can be planted closer, while those to be grown flat on the ground require more room. Set transplants two to four inches deep. Excessively elongated stems can be partially buried horizontally at this depth. Liquid fertilizer starter solutions reduce transplant stress.Care
Weeds may be controlled by shallow cultivation, by an opaque (black) plastic mulch or by a thick organic mulch like straw. Mulches serve additional functions by conserving water and reducing plant and fruit contact with the soil. Organic mulches keep soils cool and should not be applied before July.
Supporting vines on stakes or twine trellises and pruning, allows closer spacing and improves air circulation, thereby reducing vine diseases, and makes cultivation easier. Such pruning may reduce the total yield somewhat but gives larger fruit. With these methods, the supports can be five to eight feet high. The plants can be pruned to one or two main stems by saving a strong lower lateral (side) bud to make the second stem and pinching out the other lateral buds as the stems grow. Stems should be tied to the supports.
Wire tomato cages may be used as an alternative to staking or flat ground culture. Indeterminate varieties can fill a cage 18 to 24 inches in diameter and five feet high. Caged plants need not be pruned. For early plantings, transparent plastic can be wrapped around the cages to protect against cold winds. Be sure to open the top on sunny days. High temperatures within a closed cage can kill the plant.
Tomatoes need about one inch of water per week. If rain is insufficient, soak thoroughly at weekly intervals. Irregular watering may cause blossom end rot or fruit splitting. Light sandy soils may require mid-season fertilization, especially after long periods of rain. One or two side dressings of one to two pounds of 5-10-10 or half as much of 10-10-10 (or equivalent amounts of other fertilizers) per 100 square feet can be applied after the first fruit clusters are formed. Apply three to four inches from the stems and water the fertilizer into the soil.
Common Tomato Insect Pests
Numerous lesser pests or conditions may cause tomato problems occasionally.
Samples of the damaged plants and the suspected pest(s) can be brought to your regional Cooperative Extension Center for identification and control information.
Common Tomato Diseases
Common Physiological Problems of Tomato
Find more articles on growing tomatoes on our Vegetable IPM page.
The information in this material is for educational purposes. The recommendations contained are based on the best available knowledge at the time of printing. Any reference to commercial products, trade or brand names is for information only, and no endorsement or approval is intended. The Cooperative Extension system does not guarantee or warrant the standard of any product referenced or imply approval of the product to the exclusion of others which also may be available.All agrochemicals/pesticides listed are registered for suggested uses in accordance with federal and Connecticut state laws and regulations as of the date of printing. If the information does not agree with current labeling, follow the label instructions. The label is the law.Warning! Agrochemicals/pesticides are dangerous. Read and follow all instructions and safety precautions on labels. Carefully handle and store agrochemicals/pesticides in originally labeled containers immediately in a safe manner and place. Contact the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection for current regulations.The user of this information assumes all risks for personal injury or property damage.Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kirklyn M. Kerr, Director, Cooperative Extension System, The University of Connecticut, Storrs. The Connecticut Cooperative Extension System offers its programs to persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability and is an equal opportunity employer.