A crop that is fairly easy to grow, tomato thrives well in favorable conditions. Companion planting also helps support the needs of your tomato plants.
You can improve your chances of avoiding certain pests and plant diseases by including good companion plants to grow with your tomatoes. This practice may also attract beneficial insects.
What to Plant With Tomatoes
Below are some of the best companion plants for tomatoes.
- Bush beans
- Lemon balm
- Red clover
What NOT to Plant With Tomatoes
Just as there are good tomato companion plants, some can be bad as well. Some might stunt plant growth and harbor pests, so it’s wise to keep them well away.
Here are some plants you should avoid planting next to tomatoes.
- Brussels Sprouts
How to Grow Tomatoes
Tomatoes love warm weather. Therefore, sow your seeds so the seedlings will be ready for transplant after the danger of frost has passed.
Tomato plants will need full sun, at least 6 to 8 hours of sun per day. They also need well-drained soil with a pH that is slightly acidic.
Additionally, make sure the area you’ve selected has room for them as well as their companions.
Space the indeterminate tomatoes that are grown in cages 2 to 3 feet apart or 3 to 4 feet if they aren’t caged. And/or, space determinate tomatoes at 2 to 3 feet apart in rows 4 feet apart .
Once you’ve found a suitable spot, pre-treat the soil with compost or aged manure several weeks before planting.
Plant seedlings deep. And if possible, lay the plant on its side and gently bend upright then cover the stem that is on the ground with soil.
Also, set cages or stakes right away as adding them later could damage the roots. Water transplanted seedlings immediately as well. This will help the roots adjust to their new home.
Care and Maintenance
Tomato plants need adequate water all season long — about 1-2 inches of water per week. However, the plants grown in containers will require more water.
Additionally, try to water early in the morning so they can survive hot days. After five weeks in their new growing space, add some mulch to your plants to help them stay moist and minimize weeds.
Examples of good garden mulches include grass clippings and dried leaves. Also, ensure the plants have the support they need by using strings to tie them to their stakes or cages.
Trim the bottom leaves as well. This helps improve airflow and prevents splash back from the ground during watering or when it rains.
Pests and Diseases
Protecting your plants from unwanted garden pests and crop-killing diseases means keeping a close eye on them.
Check them constantly for signs of infestation, but keep in mind that not all insects are bad. Some insects like ladybugs and dragonflies are ones you should keep close, as they prey on some harmful insects.
Some of the bad insects and related pests to watch out for are aphids, cutworms, hornworms, spider mites, and slugs. However, don’t panic if you spot a few. Pluck them off!
And if the bugs get out of control, consider using some organic insecticidal soap or other natural pest control methods.
Plant diseases are a little harder to deal with. Plus, there are so many of them you may find it difficult to learn some of the names. Anthracnose, botrytis gray mold, and early blight are common tomato plant diseases.
One common sign of mold is visible white patches on the leaves, while early blight will show black or brown spots on lower leaves.
The best solution is to stop pests and diseases before they ever have a chance to take hold. This is where good plant neighbors for tomatoes can be useful.
When harvest time arrives, don’t pick tomatoes before they start to ripen. They will ripen much better on the vine than they would if harvested too early.
Pick when the fruits have full, deep color. Also, keep them at room temperature. Storing tomatoes in the refrigerator can make them lose their flavor and texture .
If the growing season ends before they all ripen, pull the entire plant out of the ground with the fruit attached and hang it somewhere cool indoors.
Where to Buy Seeds
When it’s time to go from planning your garden to starting your tomato plants, you’ll want to find quality seeds.
Many local farm stores sell seeds. There are also reputable online stores like SeedsNow.com and Arbico-Organics.com that sell high-quality organic seeds.
Planning for potential tomato growing problems before you plant will increase your chances of success. Incorporating helpful companion plants will help lessen those issues. Also, once in the ground, water plants and mulch them to keep them healthy.
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