By Nikki Tilley, Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden
If you?re wanting to grow something a bit more exotic in the landscape, how about growing a tree tomato tamarillo. What are tree tomatoes? Read here to find out, including how to grow a tamarillo tomato tree.
Fruiting crops, including tomatoes, need full sun most of the day for good production of quality fruit. Good drainage is also important. In high to medium rainfall areas (more than 30 inches per year) work the soil into ridges and plant on the ridge or build raised beds 12 to 18 inches deep. Plan on setting out at least one cherry tomato and 4 to 6 large-fruited varieties depending on the number of fresh tomato lovers in your family. You'll need stakes or wire tomato cages to support the plants to keep the fruit off the ground where it would rot. To insure even and efficient watering, you will want to put in a drip or soaker hose system for watering. Finally, count on mulch to keep down the weeds.
After planting, stake or cage all tomatoes with the exception of small bush or patio varieties, which can often support themselves. Waiting a few weeks after planting to install stakes or cages can injure the plant's roots. Cages and stakes keep tomatoes off the ground, helping to encourage successful tomato growing and prevent fruit rot and numerous diseases.
Tomato cages are typically made of heavy-gauge wire and stand 5-6 feet tall. Firmly anchor the cages to the ground with stakes to keep the plants from blowing over and uprooting themselves during storms. They should have openings wide enough for your hand to reach inside to harvest.
Stakes are another way to help plants stand tall and help tomatoes successfully grow. They need to be at least 8 feet high and 1 inch wide. Pound the stake at least 12 inches into the ground and 4 inches from the plant. Attach the stem to the stake with garden twine, self-adhesive fabric, or strips of cloth.
How do you make heirlooms easier to grow? Graft them onto disease-resistant rootstock. Grafting is a propagating technique that involves slicing a piece from one plant and splicing that plant piece onto another plant. Grafted plants are pricier (about $8 per plant), but you’ll get increased yield. Use silicon grafting clips or grafting ties to make sure you get a successful graft.