Mid-season is an exciting time for tomato growers! Our hard work and patience begin to bear fruit. To ensure a bountiful harvest and robust tomato plants, proper care is essential during this crucial phase. In this guide, we will share key tips and techniques to help you care for your mid-season tomatoes. From creating sturdy stakes for support to fertilizing for optimal growth, and from pruning to trimming off excess foliage, we will cover all the essential steps to keep your tomato plants healthy, strong, and productive. Get ready to dive into the world of tomato care so we can reap the benefits of a bountiful harvest soon!
Give it Support
If you haven’t already, now is a good time to support your tomato plants! Indeterminate varieties will continue growing tall and can get top-heavy as they set fruit. Be sure your stakes and cages are secured into the ground to prevent them from falling over, which is especially common during windy summer and fall storms. Even determinate (bushing) varieties may need additional support from a wire cage. Watch for branches that are loaded with heavy fruit, (especially if you are growing large tomatoes like beefsteaks) and support them so that they don’t snap or bend.
Here are some homemade methods that provide effective support for tomato plants as they grow, helping to prevent bending, breakage, and overcrowding. Remember to regularly check the plants and adjust the supports as needed throughout the growing season.
- Three or four long bamboo poles or sturdy wooden stakes (around 6 feet in length)
- Twine or gardening wire
- Push the bamboo poles or wooden stakes into the ground in a triangular or square shape, leaving enough space for the tomato plant to grow in the center.
- Secure the poles at the top with twine or gardening wire, creating a teepee or trellis structure.
- As the tomato plant grows, gently weave the branches through the gaps between the poles, providing support and guiding them upward.
Cage Method using Tomato Cages:
- Concrete reinforcing wire or sturdy wire mesh (around 5 feet in height)
- Wire cutters
- Zip ties or twist ties
- Cut a section of the concrete reinforcing wire or wire mesh to create a cylindrical shape or half circle, with a diameter of around 2 to 3 feet.
- If a cylindrical shape, bring the two ends together and secure them with zip ties or twist ties, forming a cage.
- Place the cage over the young tomato plant, ensuring it is centered and provides enough room for growth.
- As the tomato plant grows, gently guide the branches through the cage openings, and use additional ties if necessary to secure the plant to the cage.
Stakes and String Method:
- Wooden stakes (around 6 to 7 feet in length)
- Twine or gardening wire
- Drive one stake into the ground near each tomato plant, ensuring it is stable and deep enough to support the plant's growth.
- Tie a length of twine or gardening wire around the stake at the plant's base, securing it tightly.
- Gently wrap the twine or wire around the main stem of the tomato plant as it grows, creating a spiral pattern, and attach it to the stake at regular intervals.
- Continue to add more twine or wire as the plant grows taller, maintaining support and stability.
Tomatoes are heavy feeders and need a lot of nutrients to produce and ripen all that fruit! If you haven’t fertilized your tomatoes yet this season, now is a great time if temperatures aren’t too high in your area (ideally below 90). Once your tomato has a good fruit set, you can give it a gentle summer feeding to help it continue ripening fruit. An all-natural low-nitrogen fertilizer or compost tea is most ideal for summer feeding. You can purchase a fruiting plant soil booster and feeder on the Planted Places website.
Trim off and throw away any leaves that are yellow or spotted. This is most common towards the base of the plant and is usually caused by water that splashes up onto the leaves, bringing soil-borne pathogens with it. Removing these leaves will help prevent possible bacterial or fungal issues that could spread to other leaves or nearby plants. Mulching around the base of your plant will also help prevent splash-back. Clean your trimmers after you are finished trimming to prevent spreading any fungal issues or diseases.
You can also prune any suckers and non-productive branches (or branches that have minimal flowers/fruit) to help the plant focus its energy on the fruit-bearing branches.
Even the micro-tomato variety which grow great in small containers and vertically in our Planted Wall gardening system - need trimming! Micro-tomatoes grow to about 18" in height but they generate lots of fruit once they start to ripen.
Add Organic Soil and Soil Amendments to feed your Tomato Plants
Try some of our soil and soil amendments to start growing regeneratively! You'll be amazed at how much easier it is to grow healthy leafy greens, herbs, and veggies. Everything is easier because your plant health is in tip top shape.