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Beef up Dad's Tomatoes for Father's Day PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Everything Science   
May 14, 2006 at 12:00 AM
--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Every dad usually likes to try his hand at home-grown tomatoes. It seems to go with the territory of being a dad, like throwing a baseball, fixing something on a car, or mowing the lawn and complaining about it. If the home-grown tomatoes turn out big and delicious, certain bragging rights are attached. So in honor of Father's Day, help the man in your life grow the biggest, best tomatoes on the block.

tomatoes

Help dad grow beautiful, delicious tomatoes like these. (Photo: Business Wire)

Start off Right

First, choose a good location with full sun, good drainage, and soil amended with natural composts. Good soils with adequate drainage head off root diseases or the stress of too much or too little water. Next choose healthy tomato plants -- dark green with thick stems, a strong root system, and absolutely no brown spots or wilted leaves. Look for varieties resistant to the main diseases and known to grow well in your area (a nursery or extension service can advise). Space tomato plants at least 18-24 inches apart in the row, with at least half of the transplant height buried. New roots will form on the part of the stem that is buried.

Grow It Bigger

Plan for size. These are dad's tomatoes, so do things to help grow really big ones. Keep the soil around the plant moist and rich with compost and mulch. Use stakes to keep leaves and fruit off the ground. Be sure to remove the suckers (small unproductive vegetative branches on main stems and at the base of the plant). Fertilize weekly with a liquid plant food. Remove any damaged or misshaped fruit. Apply Messenger(R) to direct more of the plant's energy into producing more and bigger fruit. Messenger contains a natural protein that also enhances a plant's own disease resistance systems. Apply Messenger every three weeks starting at bloom. This sets the stage for really huge tomatoes.

Keep Things Healthy

To grow big fruit you have to have a healthy plant. Daily walking keeps dad and his helpers healthy and can also keep tomato plants healthy if the stroll includes a stop at the tomato garden. Look out for ants on your plants. This could mean aphids. Chewed leaves or fruit could be the work of beetles or caterpillars. Spots on leaves, or plants that are wilting, indicate a possible disease problem. Using Messenger will help head off disease problems.

The first line of defense is to remove the pesky insect creatures with either a strong jet of water, or maybe dad would like to squish them. If simply excluding these pests is not enough, try oil, insecticidal soap sprays, or a harmless bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis that kills caterpillars. Also, remove any spotted leaves or wilted plants.

Last but not least, keep things clean and tidy. Remove all diseased plants, old fruit, dead leaves, and anything else that is not soil, mulch or your healthy tomato plants. Often garden diseases use dead plants and garden trash as a breeding ground and a launch pad.

With a little planning, a daily walk, and some simple care, you (and dad) really can grow big, beautiful, healthy tomatoes the neighborhood will envy and want to share.

Messenger is a registered trademark of Eden Bioscience Corporation (www.edenbio.com).

{mos_smf_discuss:Botany}

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