The Q&A Archives: Tough Tomatoes

Question: For two years now I have tried to grow tomatoes, but they have been far from good. Both years the tomatoes did not get very large and they had very thick skins. The first year I tried 'Better Boy'. I did a little prepping of the soil (adding peat moss, cow manure, Miracle-Gro). This last season I tried 'Celebrity' tomatoes, thinking that it might be the variety. I also added limestone for a possible calcium deficiency and I prepared the soil as much as possible. They came out the same though.<br><br>

Answer: First of all, I'd suggest you have a soil test done. While it's always a good idea to increase the soil's organic matter, you should check the pH and nutrient levels. The soil test results should include recommendations for soil amendments. <br><br>Be sure your tomatoes get a steady supply of water throughout the growing season. They should get at least 1" of water a week, so if nature doesn't supply it, you'll need to. A thick organic mulch like straw will help conserve water, and help control soil-borne diseases. Provide nutrients throughout the season as well, with a balanced fertilizer, following label directions for application.<br><br>If the tomato plants lose foliage due to disease, this can lead to sunscald on the tomatoes, which may cause skin to thicken.<br><br>If you check your soil and add the recommended amendments, and follow the above suggestions, you should have better luck this season. You might also choose a variety that tolerates hot weather, such as 'Heatwave'.

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