Tomatoes in the garden should be fertilized when the first fruit is about the size of a half dollar. Scatter a heaping teaspoon of 5-10-5 fertilizer uniformly around each plant, keeping 8 to 10 inches away from the stem. With your hands mix it into the top one-half inch of soil and then water thoroughly.
Repeat this fertilization once or twice a month; poor foliage color and stunted growth usually indicate a need for additional fertilizer.
Fruit crack is sometimes an annoying problem with ripening tomatoes. The fruit cracks radially or concentrically and doesn't keep very long. Research has shown that fruit crack can be prevented by not pruning tomato plants too heavily. Tomatoes grown in wire cages do not need to be pruned and fruit crack is seldom a problem with them.
A typical tomato plant has 15 to 20 strong horizontal and many short lateral roots. The strong-growing horizontal roots may extend three feet outward and then turn downward. When watered, unless it is done thoroughly the roots have a tendency to grow upward where they are far more likely to dry out during hot dry weather, and are almost certain to be damaged if the soil is cultivated more than an inch deep.
Water with a soil soaker rather than with the sprinkler. Wetting the foliage increases the chance of disease infection. The soaker should function until the soil is moistened to a depth of 6 to 8 inches.
Tomatoes are susceptible to several virus diseases. These can be minimized by not smoking while handling plants because tobacco may carry viruses that severely affect tomatoes.
Weeds in or near the garden also should be controlled because they often harbor viruses and the insects that transmit them.
In fact, weed control is one of the most important tasks for a successful garden. Use of chemicals for week control is not recommended for the garden. There is too much probability it may damage the vegetable plants. The least bit of drift can do a lot of harm.
The best time to attach weeds is just as they appear on the soil surface. If allowed to grow larger, they will compete with the vegetable plants for nutrients and moisture.
Cultivation with a hoe is the method usually employed to get rid of the weeds. Begin cultivation as soon as they appear. Do not work the soil when it is wet. Roots of many vegetables are near the soil surface and can be damaged unless you are careful with the hoe.
Mulching is one of the best ways to prevent weeds. The mulch also conserves moisture and keeps the soil temperature more even.
Gardeners usually sow more seed then needed: One for the blackbird, one for the crow, one for the cutworms, and one to grow.
It is not unusual today for more than 90 percent of the seeds to germinate and produce excellent plants. Too many seedlings in a row can have the same effect as weeds. They need to be thinned so that the plants left will have elbow room.