Not really a “ton” of tomatoes but I have had a wonderful crop this year. Probably the best crop I have ever had, and in a pretty difficult weather year too. Maybe I have finally figured out what it takes to grow lots of big, beautiful tomatoes!
First, choose the right variety of tomato to plant. Different varieties simply do better in different situations, but takes a few years to figure this one out unfortunately. My all-time favorite tomato variety for mid-Missouri is Supersonic for a slicing/canning tomato and Grape Tomatoes for a salad tomato. Both varieties grow big, sturdy plants with a lot of foliage – which really helps protect the tomatoes from the hot summer sun.
Next, plant early. It’s taken me several years to learn this but the earlier you can plant the tomatoes, the better. Even if it’s cool in the spring, the tomatoes can take advantage of cool weather to develop good roots and sturdy plants. The tomatoes can grow large and bushy and set on nice tomatoes before having to deal with the hot, drier summer weather. If frost threatens, just cover up the tomatoes with a bucket (or flower pot) to protect them!
Fertilize early too! When you plant the tomatoes, use Jobes Tomato Spikes to fertilize them at planting. 2-3 weeks later, give them a good drink of Miracle Gro to start the plants off well.
Treat with a fungicide several times. I like Fungonil the best. It is mixed with water and applied as a spray. Really drench the plants when you apply it. Treat again every 2-3 weeks until tomatoes start to set on – you can even treat later than that but not within a week of ripe tomatoes.
Prune your plants. Tomatoes need air flow from the bottom. Trim off the lower branches – do not let any of the branches touch the ground, because that is often how diseases enter the plant. Don’t let the branches be too thick at the bottom because that can encourage fungus. Snip off any branches that look yellow or wilted.