Photo of line of tomato plants on a farm

Through the “advertising” activities of my sweet wife, I have gotten a reputation for being quite the tomato farmer — you too can have a THRIVING tomato garden this year — here are the most important tips to help make that happen!

Earlier this week Ron went to a tomato workshop with “The Tomato Guy” Dave Freed. Dave hosted an AMAZING free workshop at the Coastkeeper Garden in Orange. Dave has a long-standing reputation as the “tomato expert” of Orange County, and Ron was so impressed that he HAD to share this information with you! You can read more about Dave and Dave’s advice for growing your tomatoes on Facebook, in the LA Times, or on his blog “Grow Tomatoes Easily”.

1. Use best potting soil available: potting Soil called “miracle grow organic mix” and can be bought at Costco for $9 a bag!

2. Dig big and deep hole for each tomato plant : 2 ft deep and 2 ft wide.

3. Discard extra soil from tomato plants.

**Ron suggests keeping this soil in a separate container and mixing with other soil you’re storing for potting purposes.

4. In that hole in garden, add steer manure “earthgrow composted steer manure” along with the above Potting Soil

5. Tomatoes drink lots of water: 2-3 gallons water a day per plant. Consider using “deep water pipes” and put in outside plant perimeter, outside of cage. Makes the root system grow outward towards the pipes and water.

6. Plant at the right time: plant early March when the temperature doesn’t go below 55 degrees at night and doesn’t go above 85 during day; If either of those is surpassed, the plant stops producing pollen.

7. Plant between March and May; water in morning not at night. Don’t get water on leaves.

8. Get the right kind of fertilizer: Use liquid fertilizer. “Miracle grow plant food” or “organic plant food liquid”. Fertilize Twice a week!! As an alternative, put steer manure in burlap bag and put water for three days then pour it around tomatoes.

9. Buy the best types of tomato plants: “Better Boy” (thin skin and really sweet), Or a hybrid, and heat tolerant plants and buy live plants not as many from seed. “Early Girl” has thick skin it. Buy size that is 4 inch ones; always put cages in when planting and make them 3 feet apart

10. Mulch them! Put a layer of straw 3-5 inches deep (can buy at bale of hay for $10 and Put on in May or June. Keep branches off ground .

11. Maximize pollination: Shake cage or use electric tooth brush on stem about twice a week.

12. If problems with disease on plants: use sulfur dust from amazon (not powder)It’s called “plant fungicide” put on mask. Only if diseased. Apply in spring and a little throughout .

Miscellaneous tips:

Heat is enemy. Get heat tolerant plants and if necessary get black 50% sun screens and cut into 2×6 foot sections and put on the “Sun Side”.

Do not refrigerate tomatoes… they immediately lose their flavor.

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