If you share my passion for ripe tomatoes, one of your most pressing concerns in the garden is how to get as many tomatoes as possible from a few plants. Before we talk about tomato yields and techniques for optimizing your yield, let’s take a look at some of my favorite tomato cultivars.
Many people who grow tomatoes want to know, “How many tomatoes per plant can I grow?” The average yield is around 10 pounds of tomatoes per plant. However, with a few guidelines, such as choosing the appropriate tomatoes for your location, you may produce 50 to 80 pounds of fruit per plant.
You can grow a fantastic high-yield tomato crop and boost the tomato yield per plant by following a few basic principles, even if you have no gardening experience or have always had bad luck as a gardener.
In this post, we’ll go over successful tomato farming and a 12-step checklist to help you grow the best and most fresh tomatoes feasible. Continue reading to discover how to increase tomato yield.
Selecting Your Seedlings or Starting Up
It’s usually a good idea to start your tomato plants from seed. You’ll save money by doing it, but you’ll also learn a lot.
Even if you buy USDA Certified Heirloom Tomato Seeds Assortment like these, you’ll save money. Consider the cost of a pack of these high-quality seeds, which costs about $3-$4 for 25 seeds.
The cost of each seedling ranges from $15 to $25, depending on the type and size. For a 6-plant flat, non-organic, hybrid seedlings cost between $90 and $150. You may expect to pay that much or more per plant if you buy organically grown heirloom seedlings.
Also, keep in mind that organic tomatoes cost $3-$6 a pound. It’s easy to see how you may save money if you grow 50+ pounds of fruits from each plant, which was grown from a top-quality heirloom tomato seed.
Select Tomato Seedlings Carefully
Make certain that the seedlings you buy have the certified organic seal and aren’t snooty in little containers.
Despite the fact that a plant with many green leaves may appear to be the best option, keep in mind that the root system of a tomato plant is much more essential than its leaves.
Seedlings put much effort into their leaves when they are young, and transplanting them severely depletes their energy. When they have recovered, it will take time for them to begin growing fruit.
Aside from your savings, raising certified, organic, heirloom cultivar plants from “scratch” has a number of additional advantages.
One of the most important advantages is that you will avoid buying seedlings from a local garden center that have been sprayed with pesticides containing neonicotinoids. These pesticides reduce bee populations.
Hybrid tomato seeds and seedlings may be more genetically modified than simple hybridization, in addition to having the potential for chemical contamination.
Bees and other beneficial insects might be harmed by non-tomato genes introduced into your plants, as well as yourself.
The Best High-Yielding Tomato Plant Varieties
You’ll be able to select from a wide range of tomato plant kinds. First, you must choose between determinate and indeterminate tomato plants. What is the distinction?
- Determinate types grow to a specific height and then stop growing.
- Indeterminate kinds bloom as long and tall as you allow them to.
Another crucial point to consider. Before selecting your seeds or seedlings, speak with a local gardening club. Obtain expert advice from seasoned gardeners in your region on the types of plants that flourish in your climate. If there are any disease-resistant cultivars available, you should also know about them. The following are some common choices:
Cherry Tomato: Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes are a wonderful variety for growing in your garden. They’re tiny cherry-like red, deep crimson, golden yellow, or dark purple and perfect for snacking or salads. In containers and hanging baskets, cherry tomatoes thrive.
Grape Tomato: Small, oblong tomatoes are delicious snacks and additions to salads. They usually produce a lot of fruit and few leaves.
These are not as sweet and delicious as cherry tomatoes. The red and yellow varieties of fresh tomatoes are available. Because the yellow type grape tomato is less appealing to birds, you can save more of your harvest for yourself.
Beefsteak Tomato: Large, luscious tomatoes with a satisfying taste. Indeterminate tomatoes are referred to as determinate because of the way they grow; however, vines on average reach 6-8′ in length.
For slicing and using on sandwiches and burgers, beefsteaks are ideal. They’re delicious sliced up into salads or eaten straight out of hand. The fruits of the Beefsteak need a lot of support from their plants.
Roma Tomato: The San Marzano tomato, known as the Roma tomato in Italy, is a pear-shaped fruit that grows to a maximum height of 6′ and matures in 70 days. Roma is a great choice for enhancing sauces and stews because it adds wonderful flavor. Other types beat out Roma for salads and snacking, but a well-grown Roma tomato on its own is very delectable.
Aunt Ruby’s German Green Tomato: Indeterminate heirloom tomatoes grow to be about eight ounces each. They have an 80-day growing period and are characterized by a wonderful, spicy flavor. The large, green fruits are said to be sweet and spicy. A pale red sheen may occasionally emerge. From early summer through late fall, the growing season is lengthy. Aunt Ruby is an excellent choice if you want to keep birds away from your crop because they find green tomatoes less appealing than yellow ones.
San Marzano – Sweet and low in acidity, San Marzano tomatoes are the ideal foundation for a tomato sauce.
There are numerous heirloom types to be grown across the United States, and hundreds of varieties in sizes, shapes, colors, and plant kinds.
Select and Prepare Your Garden Plot
Another advantage of starting your plants from seed in the winter before spring arrives is that it allows you to prepare your garden bed.
If you have a small deck, build it in a sunny area with well-drained soil. Also, try to pick an area that is sheltered from strong winds.
To help your plants benefit from these nutrients, add compost and beneficial fungus (mycorrhizal inoculants) to the soil when preparing it for the first time. This will increase the amount of helpful bacteria in the soil.
A healthy, well-supplied soil that is high in nutrients can help your plants’ disease resistance.
The typical tomato diseases, such as battling Fusarium wilt and verticillium wilt, are less likely to strike a garden bed with excellent drainage, light, airy soil, and plenty of sunshine.
This condition is caused by a fungus that attacks plants and drains their nutrients, causing them to collapse and wilt suddenly.
A dry, light and balanced soil does not offer the conditions needed for this fungus to grow.
Fresh air, light winds, and sunshine can all help your tomato plant leaves stay dry and healthy. As a result, it aids in the prevention of a wide range of typical illnesses and pests.
Plant Your Seedlings
When the days and nights are consistently warm, and there is no longer a danger of frost, you may transplant your seedlings. However, you’ll need a little advance planning. Trim the undergrowth and set the seedlings on their sides for a few days to begin with.
Laying tomato seedlings on their sides causes the top of the plant to bend upward. Your plants will be ready for actual planting when this happens.
Lay the seedlings on their sides in your prepared bed and dig a trench around them.
Cover the roots and stems with dirt, worm castings, and compost. Water well, then add wood chip mulch to the top. Allow the top of the plant to be exposed to air and light.
Small hairs on the plants’ stems will develop roots, so each of your little seedlings will have robust and healthy root systems. A healthy, robust, and abundantly productive tomato plant has a strong root system.
We call the larvae of the Noctuidae moths “cutworms.” They’re subterranean and chew through plant stems to cause havoc. To prevent them from destroying your tomato plants, drive a tiny, hard, toothpick-sized stick into the ground near to the stem.
It is unlikely that they will realize what the fake stem is until they try to bite or chew on it. They’ll go right ahead and do so, thinking it’s too difficult to munch through. This should drive them away.
Support And Stake Your Plants
Make sure to provide your indeterminate tomatoes with a solid, tall stake (6′ feet or more) for support if they continue to grow in height. If you’re growing determinate tomatoes to the right height, use a tomato cage of the appropriate size.
Protect and Guard Against The Wind
Cover your plants’ cages with a floating row cover if they don’t thrive in a shaded area. When you anticipate high winds, protect your plants’ cages with a floating row cover. Pathogens gain a foothold on broken stems and ripped leaves.
Repeat The Planting Process
Wait three weeks after starting your first set of tomato plant seedlings before planting the rest. Start a second round of plants about three weeks after the initial ones were planted.
Two batches of tomatoes on a somewhat staggered timetable yield constant fruiting throughout the season when planted next to each other.
Rooting suckers from your existing tomato plants may help you extend your growing season. Later on in this post, we’ll go into detail about that.
What About Greenhouse Tomatoes?
A high tunnel greenhouse setting can produce a large tomato crop with indeterminate tomato variety plants if you have enough of both. You may extend the growing season and enjoy fresh, ripe tomatoes year-round by properly heating and ventilating a greenhouse.
To grow tomatoes using this technique, you’ll need a high tunnel greenhouse with a durable trellis system that will allow your plants to reach their full height of 20 or 30 feet.
Worry not, the greenhouse does not need to be that tall, but your trellis system should extend all the way to the ceiling and across so that your plants can climb and spread in a controlled manner.
This method of tomato production necessitates a lot of attention, precise pruning, and particular care. If you like this sort of thing or want to produce a large number of tomatoes for sale, this type of setup may be extremely gratifying.
Mulch Your Garden Heavily
You may only have to plow and cultivate the first year of your garden, but if you keep it well mulched for the rest of its existence, you will never have to plow and till it again.
Composted wood chips, on the other hand, will help to prevent weeds from growing by acting as a physical mulch. They also serve as a moisture barrier and hold moisture in the ground.
Mulching uses less time, energy, and water than hand weeding. Mulch reduces stress on plants by helping to regulate the soil temperature. Mulching prevents soil pathogens from landing on tomato plant leaves when it rains by shielding them from the rain.
TIP: For a low cost, you can get wood chips at your local tree trimmer (if they have any left over). Allow them to compost before utilizing.
Mulch your tomatoes after they’ve been planted to help them establish a root system. In the spring, simply scrape away the mulch in the areas you want to plant, turn the soil, and renew it for the new season.
The decaying mulch will nourish your soil on the underside. However, don’t ever till it into the ground; this disrupts the natural decomposition process. For optimum and easiest results, keep it as a thick, lasting layer of protection on the soil surface.
Provide Daily Care
Check your tomato crop for environmental and insect damage on a regular basis after it has been planted. Apply water to the leaves of your tomatoes at least once a week. On a weekly basis, slowly apply several inches of water to the mulch surface. Slow watering with soaker hoses is excellent.
When you water in the morning, it’s usually a good idea to avoid getting the leaves wet or damp. Wet or damp leaves might cause fungal infection.
The one exception is the use of foliar fertilizer once a month or so. Once you’ve applied the liquid, avoid applying it directly to leaves until they’ve had time to dry out.
Foliar fertilizers should be used in the morning, allowing your plants to dry all day before nightfall.
Try making a nutrient-rich tea and giving it to your plants right at the start. If you’re growing lettuce, for example, add 1 tablespoon of ammonium sulfate to each gallon of water just before a regular watering.
The ideal tomato fertilizer supplement, according to the University of Missouri, has a low nitrogen content, a moderate amount of potassium, and plenty of phosphorus.
Tomato plants also require a lot of micronutrients. However, most of the micronutrients will be supplied by compost and the decomposition of your mulch bed’s underside.
Trimming and Suckering Tomato Plants
You’ve probably heard that tomato plants should be pinched off or pruned “suckers” from the stem. Suckers are branches growing between a plant’s branch and stem. Gardeners who swear by this method claim that removing suckers increases a plant’s energy for tomato production.
Although this may be the case, it is not always essential. If you wish to produce a lot of tomatoes, or simply have more plants in your garden, cut off the suckers!
Some people advocate for suckers because they are the “safest” option. Why? Because when you chop or break the plant, it allows germs to enter and cause illness or death.
Trimming may spread germs to the plant, but by trimming the tops carefully with sterilized scissors, you may encourage bushier and stronger development. Pruning is a wonderful way to restore order if your plant gets floppy and straggly.
Prune in the early morning, allowing the “injuries” to recuperate and mend throughout the day.
Suckers Can Help You Grow New Plants
Suckers may be useful since you can cut them off, root them, and grow a whole new crop. If you do this in the middle of summer, you’ll have a fantastic fall harvest of tomatoes. Here’s how to do it:
On a dry, sunny day, gather a few of big, hardy suckers. Clip them with sterilized shears or a sharp knife blade early in the morning so that the plants may “heal” throughout the day.
Clip the suckers while you’re out in nature. Bring a container of clean, warm water with you to dip the exposed stems straight into it as you go. Place the container of water in a warm, still location with indirect sunshine once you’ve collected all the suckers you want.
The leaves will wilt for a few days at first. After they’ve recovered, move the container to a sunny area but protected from strong winds.
If you have a sunny kitchen window sill, the “sucker container” is an excellent spot because you’ll need to change the rooting water every few days to prevent fungus development. It will be easy to remember if the jar is near your sink.
Roots should start growing in a week to ten days. Transplant the suckers into pots or directly into your garden once they reach around an inch in length.
Following the directions for seedinglings above, transplant your plants when necessary. Keep them shaded from direct sunshine and strong winds until they are established.
Keep Your Garden Soil Fresh
Tomatoes should not be grown in the same location year after year. To rejuvenate the garden soil, rotate your plants. Peanuts and clover, for example, may help to naturally increase the nitrogen content of the soil where tomatoes grew last season.
Clover can also be used as a “green mulch” crop around your tomatoes. Clover makes a beautiful ground cover for bees, as well as other pollinators. At the end of the growing season, tiller the clover under to further benefit the soil.
Basil, garlic, and chives are some excellent tomato companion plants. These fragrant plants deter pests while also making excellent culinary partners for tomatoes. A large planter filled with cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic, and chives next to your kitchen door is a handy thing to have.
What About Tomato Pests?
Few pests will exist in plants that are robust, healthy, and accompanied by well-chosen companion plants. Insect pests become an issue, especially the voracious tomato hornworm moth, who uses chemical pesticides as a last resort. Remember that if you intend to consume those tomatoes, as well as any poisons you apply around the garden will harm both beneficial insects and those you don’t want to be destroyed.
Bt is the only exception, as it’s a natural pathogenic microbe that only affects caterpillars. Using this product early on, as soon as you notice caterpillars on your plants, can be quite beneficial. Keep in mind that it’s equally harmful to beneficial moth caterpillars and destructive moth caterpillars. Apply it softly and sparingly if required.
Another alternative to using pesticides is to use organic solutions, such as the following:
- Pick them off one by one with your bare hands.
- Spray with an organic mixture of garlic powder and water.
- To keep pests away from your tomatoes, plant a “decoy” garden of plants. Dill is particularly appealing to caterpillars and makes an attractive addition to a butterfly garden.
Protect Your Tomatoes From Birds
You may attract a variety of birds, particularly if you grow red tomatoes, when your tomato crop is spectacular. Yellow, orange, and green cultivars can help you minimize bird damage to your tomato plant. Harvesting your fruit early or utilizing bird netting to protect your plants may also deter gulls from attacking your crops.
Harvesting Tomatoes Early
Wait until the green tomatoes show a few streaks of pink if you harvest early. To preserve the tomatoes on the vine, snip off clusters.
They should not be placed on a windowsill or kept in the refrigerator. Instead, keep them on a cloth pad in indirect light in a colander or basket.
To avoid developing soft spots, turn your ripening tomatoes every day. Rotating will allow air to flow and help the ripening process.
Placing ripe tomatoes in a paper bag with an apple or banana is also a useful way to accelerate the ripening process. Set the bag on your kitchen counter out of the direct sunshine where you see it every day.
Every day, open the bag and turn all of the fruit to prevent soft spots from developing.
The ethylene gases given off by an apple or a banana will hasten the ripening of tomatoes, peaches, pears, and other semi-soft fruit. At the conclusion of your project, remember to dispose of the banana or apple in your compost pile.
Plant your tomatoes in a protected area if you want them to ripe on the vine in the garden (which is much better) or cover them with bird netting. You may also put a few rogue plants near your compost heap and leave them open to birds and other animals.
Tomato Quick Reference Checklist
- Choose the correct plants. It’s preferable to start your tomatoes from seed, but if you can’t, get cultivars that are suited to your location.
- Choose your tomato plants with care. Look for tomatoes with sturdy roots rather than beautiful leaves.
- Choose the best site. Make sure your tomato garden has adequate drainage and gets at least ten hours of bright sunshine per day throughout the growing season for optimum production.
- Plant them in a trench with plenty of organic matter and/or worm castings to encourage a robust root system.
- To prevent cutworms from damaging your plants, remember to employ the “stick-trick.”
- Mulch should be applied thickly and thoroughly.
- Provide appropriate support.
- Provide wind protection.
- Establish a regular watering and fertilizing routine.
- To prevent disease, trim and “sucker” your plants carefully (or not at all) to minimize the risk.
- To keep your soil fresh and vibrant, rotate crops and/or use nitrogen-boosting cover crops.
To assist protect your tomatoes from pests, surround them with the following companion plants: basil, chives, dill, lavender, mint, nasturtiums, and parsley.
Customize Your Process To Your Setting
You may grow tomatoes in a variety of ways. When you pick the right plant for your region and give it adequate, consistent basic care, you should be able to enjoy delicious homegrown tomatoes all summer.
If you are a canner, you may continue to profit from your efforts all year round. Adapt the suggestions above as necessary to produce a bumper crop of tomatoes this summer.
Growing the ideal tomato and producing a bumper crop of high-yield tomatoes may be tough, as even the most experienced gardeners are aware.
Having the correct balance of elements for soil health, keeping its pH level in check, and knowing when to add compost and mulch are all essential.
The grapevine needs a regular quantity of water and sunshine, but too much of either might harm the vine and fruit.
Cages and cages, on the other hand, should not interfere with the plant’s growth. Supporting the plant physically with a tomato cage for example during fruit development keeps them safe and secure.
You will get the most out of your tomato plant if you prevent pests from eating it.
What are your top tips for growing tomatoes?