Tough Tomatoes - Knowledgebase Question

Florence, SC
Question by Mberge
March 1, 1998
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.


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Answer from NGA
March 1, 1998

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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.

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.

If the tomato plants lose foliage due to disease, this can lead to sunscald on the tomatoes, which may cause skin to thicken.

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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