Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Keeping Tomato Plants Healthy - 4 Week Update

So, a few weeks ago, I shared that I was trying a third time to start a tomato garden. This was, of course, after two failed attempts. Due to poor soil in my yard, I tried a raised bed with organic soil. You can read about that here.

Because my tomato plants either died or didn't produce much fruit in the past, I reached out to friends who garden and homestead for tips to keep them healthy and productive.

If I can't make it happen, I'll borrow someone else's technique. A little unoriginal, I realize. But at least I'm paying it forward by sharing with you! That counts for something, right?

First off, I have a confession. One of my original plants died the first week. B said it was a bad plant and we shouldn't buy it, but I didn't hear him and loaded it in the cart.

And he got the opportunity to say "I told you so". Awesome.

I replaced the dead plant with a Roma tomato plant to add variety, and moved on.

Based on the advice I received, I tried a couple of new techniques this year:

  • Mulch with grass - This one was easy and free! To hold moisture in, I gathered up some grass clippings after B mowed the yard (a handy one, that one), and scattered them over the organic soil (leaving a 2" radius around each plant to give it some space).
  • Watering Technique - I can't take all of the credit this year. Mother Nature has given us a rainy spring. Bad for weekend plans, good for tomatoes. Besides the weather, I tried something new - watering spikes. They stake in the ground, hold a water bottle, and slowly distribute water into the soil. I ordered a package of 6 of these online. Here's how I set them up:
    • Buy 6 plastic bottles of water (I had 16 oz bottles on hand, liter bottles work, too).
    • Cut the bottoms off of the water bottles and remove the cap and ring.
    • Fill watering spike with sand to slow down the water flow, otherwise the water will flow out immediately. I didn't need a giant bag, so I found a small bag in the vase filler section of Michael's.

    • Place mouth of water bottle in the spike as tight as it will go.
    • Place spike into ground as close to plant as possible.

    • Use a watering can to pour water into the bottles every day it doesn't rain (ideally morning or night when it's not too hot to evaporate).

  • Structure - Okay, yes, I did this in prior years, too. It's still important! Since tomatoes are a vine, they need to be attached to a structure, otherwise they will fall and touch the ground - no good. I used a cage, but stakes are fine too. 

The result? The plants are strong and healthy! Each plant has a few blooms, which means tomatoes are on the way. Even more important, salsa is on the way!

I can't even believe I'm responsible for this!

If you've had rough luck with tomatoes in the past, I recommend trying a raised bed and these techniques. I'll provide another update soon!

What strategies have been effective for you in keeping tomato plants healthy and productive?


Want more? Follow the CSRS Blog on FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle+, or CoffeeScarvesandRunningShoes on Instragram for the latest updates, articles, and more!


  1. I am currently enjoying some delicious cherry and roma tomatoes from a neighbor's garden.

    I have what is known, in the gardening community, as a "Black Thumb." So I will do everyone a favor and not offer any advice or tips, because it will only end in misery. :)

    However, your plants are gorgeous and I'm sure the fresh tomatoes are divine. Enjoy and congrats on a job well done!

    1. Yum! My romas are just blooming.

      Haha, I've failed twice, so don't feel bad! It can be very tricky with varying soil conditions and weather where we live. I think I may have found what works for me (fingers crossed)!

      Thank you!

  2. These included two Cornish siblings, William and Thomas Lobb. William Lobb kicked the bucket in San Francisco in 1864 however his sibling Thomas lived in Devoran until his demise in 1894. Homepage

  3. These foods help reduce the risk of suffering from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer and even help us to reduce weight and stay fit and healthy.zoete aardappel koken

  4. Include organic food in your monthly shopping list. Select packaged food that has organic label, although you might need to check further on this one. Go organic.ashwagandha ervaringen

  5. Great post I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this interesting and knowledgeable article.
    Matthew Rutler

  6. This blog thoroughly steps far from every one of those nonexclusive and symbolizes what elegantly composed genuinely resembles.

  7. We had never bought running shoes and to our learner eye they all appeared to be identical. Normally we float towards those we thought looked cool.Best cheap running shoes