By Mario Villarino, AgriLife Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources in Hopkins County, [email protected]
Tomato growing is a very common practice in Hopkins County gardens. As I was preparing this piece, the Hopkins County Extension Office was receiving frequent phone calls related to tomato health and tomato growing.
As I was going through some of those questions, a common one was related to leaf curl up and nutrition of the tomato. Tomatoes need phosphorus, nitrogen, potash and minor elements to grow.
Starting your plants off with an ample shovelful or two of compost will go a long way toward making sure the soil will provide for their needs. It will also aid the soil in holding onto moisture, which will prevent problems such as blossom-end rot.
Many gardeners also add a synthetic or organic fertilizer. Some types, such as water-soluble granules or fish emulsion, can be applied when watering. There are also granular forms that can be mixed with the soil before planting or used as a side dressing, and time-release fertilizers, which can be added to the soil at planting time. No matter what kind of fertilizer you use, always follow the directions on the label. Do not over-fertilize because this will cause lush plants with little fruit set. It’s best to select a fertilizer that contains more phosphorus (P) than nitrogen (N) or potassium (K). Phosphorus promotes flowering and fruit set.
Remember that tomato fruits are a sought-after food for wildlife and birds, and many tomatoes get damaged by those pests while still on the vine. A good strategy is to collect the tomatoes and allow them to ripe inside BEFORE wildlife and birds can even get a change to hurt them.
For more information on this or any other agricultural topic, please contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443 or email me at [email protected].