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Expert Tips for Growing Fresh, Juicy Tomatoes

Home-grown tomatoes

It’s tomato planting time for much of the country! Follow these tomato growing tips from Burpee for a fruitful harvest of fresh, juicy tomatoes.

1. Garden Spacing
Tomatoes should be set 30 to 48 inches apart in a row with the rows spaced 48 inches apart.If you plant tomatoes too close together, you'll only increase the chance of disease.

2. Early Pest Prevention
Wrap the tomato stems with a piece of cardboard or wax paper that extends an inch above and below the soil to protect them from cutworms. A regular office stapler can be used to secure the material in a circle. After the stems toughen up in 3 to 4 weeks cutworm damage will no longer be a concern and the paper will have rotted away.

3. Feeding
Use slow release fertilizer pellets at planting time to nourish young tomatoes. Tomatoes demand lots of fertility once the fruit sets, but too much early in the season will grow a large plant but with fewer tomatoes.

4. Warmth
To reduce transplant shock and retain warmth, consider a product designed to protect tomato plants.

5. Support
For maximum tomato yields always stake or cage your plants. Emerging fruits will benefit from improved air circulation and less ground pest problems.

6. Watering
Tomatoes need even watering to prevent blossom end rot. Water thoroughly but not too often (twice per week should suffice at first) and try to water early in the day so that plants will dry off before evening.

7. Mulching
Mulching can help to insure an even supply of moisture is available to the tomato plant. Try putting down a layer of newspaper 5 to 10 sheets thick between the rows (soak the papers in water first, so they won't blow away) and then cover the newspapers with dry grass clippings, bark mulch, etc.

8. Growing
Get the biggest yields by helping your plants grow to their full potential. Healthy, vibrant plants produce bumper crops of tastier tomatoes.

For more information on growing tomatoes or other garden topics, please visit


Learn how to turn your tomatoes into a healthy meal with The Everything Vegetarian Cookbook.

Use the Vegetable Garden Wheel to grow an abundance of fresh vegetables year-round.

Read about unique techniques for growing all varieties of fruits and vegetables in Smart Gardening Techniques: Edible Gardening.

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