tomato-plantQ&A call with Ernie Shivers

Tomato fertilizer used in proper amounts does result in nice sized and better tasting tomatoes, but fertilizing too much can cause problems as we’ll see in this Q&A session.

Q: I quit trying to grow tomatoes a few years ago because, I can grow lovely, tall, healthy looking plants but, no tomatoes? Is there something I can do to grow great tasting tomatoes? I always planted them where they would have full sun all day. Can they grow and produce in shady areas?

A: I haven’t experienced that but I suspect he is using too much fertilizer. He’s getting a nice healthy plant but no tomatoes, this can happen when too much fertilizer is added.

Q: What am I doing wrong? Last year I had one grow so high that I attached it to my porch and it went as tall as the roof, but I could not get any tomatoes. This year I thought I would be slick and try several different varieties of plants… They all grew, but NO tomatoes. What am I doing wrong?

A: Again, it sounds like he should cut back on the fertilizer.

Q: Every Friday, I go outside and fill my 1 1/2 gallon container with 1 scoop of miracle-gro for tomatoes and 1 1/2 gallon of water and sprinkle it on my 4 tomato plants. They are so big, they vining on to each other. I think its probably ok to stop fertilizing now. Whats your opinoin. Will this make huge tomatoes?

A: Yes, I think she’s right. Good idea about using Miracle-Gro and watering, but cut back on the fertilizer. Miracle-Gro can help with getting bigger tomatoes in proper amounts.

Q: I’m going to try to grow a tomato plant in a pot on my back deck. My pot is about 12 ” deep, and 14″ around. Will this be big enough? I filled it with potting soil, now do I need to add a fertilizer before or when I plant the actual plant? I live in Iowa, so I figure I’ll plant this thing about Mothers day.

A: Fertilizer can be added at the time of planting or afterward, both with great results. The size of the pot is adequate.

Q: What can I use to grow my tomato plants stronger and faster?

A: Most tomato plants begin bearing fruit between 75 and 90 days. Get plenty of sun light and make sure the soil is moist.

Q: We have had rain for two days, especially heavy late yesterday. Purple and Black Prince all have a lot of cracking and some of it seems to be healing. I’ve never had this problem before as I usually pick them after blushing. I was hoping to ripen some of them on the vine. Can this fruit be eaten if it heals? How will I know if it is OK?

A: When the tomato grows fast, the skin will split. When that happens pick those off the vine and let them ripen inside. Sometimes flies will lay eggs in the crack, if this happens you should discard the tomato.

More tips and jokes in the podcast. Listen to the Q&A session:

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