It’s a fair question to ask, why do I want to grow a big tomato plant anyway? The answer is that is saves a whole lot of space using vertical farming. The reality is most people don’t have 2,000 square feet of garden space anymore. In order to make enough salsa and BLTs in a season for a regular sized family, you would need to have four-five or more plants taking up a large section of ground space. We have a solution if you’d like to try and have grown tomato plants approaching 20 feet tall using these techniques!
Big Tomato Cage
Other than using a high quality tomato fertilizer one of the most important things that you need to consider when you’re trying to grow a big tomato plant is what the frame is going to be to support it. We learned a long time ago that a traditional tomato cage just doesn’t cut it with the amount of weight it will be holding. We suggest using a 10 gage, concrete reinforcing wire that you can buy at any concrete supply warehouse. The cage should have a cut length of 7 feet, a height of about 12 feet (you will bury 1.5 feet of this into the ground), and you can use soft steel wire (this wire twists very easily and you can do it with just your fingers) to tie it together to make a roll out of it. You could also visit your local garden center or nursery to see if they already have tomato frames large enough. One of the things you will notice when you eventually have a tomato plant that’s around ten feet tall and has pounds of fruit on it, is that wind could potentially buckle it completely over. Placing your frame somewhat close to a fence will help break some of that wind as well as putting a backbone into the frame for extra support. One suggestion would be to buy a ten-foot piece of rebar at any hardware store and weave it through the cage all the way down, driving it into the ground.
Size of Tomato Plant
Many people ask, what size of tomato plant should I use? A small, about four-inch tomato plant, will get you where you want to go just as well as buying a larger one. However, in this case it is important to pick the right variety. The indeterminate varieties are the ones that you’re going to want for growing the big tomato plant, because they inherently grow larger and produce fruit throughout the season until frost. A tomato plant should be planted in a trench instead of a hole because they, like potatoes, can root all the way along the stem. In order to do that, take your tomato plant, and prune off the side branches, leaving the main stem to root. Once you’ve picked the tomato variety that you’re going to plant, the real question is, what do big tomatoes eat?
Nutrients To Grow A Big Tomato Plant
Here’s a secret for you…we have been researching ingredients and their effects for over 40 years and have come up with a biologically correct fertilizer we call Dr. JimZ Tomato Secret. It is designed to feed the microbes in the soil as well as deliver direct nutrition to the plant. Your fruit will taste better, have less bug infestation, less disease, and live a longer life. Although Tomato Secret’s secret is proprietary, we can tell you that one of the nutrients to grow big tomatoes is a metabolite. It’s not a hormone in the truest sense, but we think of it as a secondary metabolite. This all-natural certified organic ingredient tells the plant to eat and keep growing as well as encouraging it to flower and fruit. When you apply in a top dress fashion, it takes about three days for this ingredient to work its way into the system and be fully active. From there, it stays active in that plant for about 10 or 11 days, which is why we recommend side dressing every two weeks just to keep it in that cycle. The real secret to Tomato Secret is that you almost can’t go wrong, it’s easy, fast acting, and it works every time. You don’t have to change the dose or be really careful about how much you use because it won’t burn. You just simply plant the tomato using the product and side dress through the season. In conjunction, you will need all day hot sun. You’ll find the leaves of the tomato plant are solar panels. If your plant does not have access to that all-day sun, it’s not likely it will grow to the size you are wanting it to be.
Steps To Grow A Big Tomato Plant
Now, you need to create a good foundation for this tomato plant. When preparing the bed, you want to make sure that you’ve got some good soil and dig a trench making sure it’s loose enough for the existing root ball and future roots to have room to develop. Then begin layering your foundation by putting a couple scoops of Tomato Secret, and then cover that up with soil. Now take your tomato plant that you’ve snipped the side branches off and lay it on its side within the trench, holding it at an angle so that the top leaves will be sticking out above the soil once the main stem is covered. Make sure that you’re staying inside the perimeter where the tomato cage is going to be placed. When you plant a tomato in a trench like this, there’s a couple of things that you’re going to gain. The stem is going to root all the way along creating a massive system, and the other is that the closer you plant to the surface, the warmer the soil is going to be. Tomato plants do not like their roots to be cold, so if you dig a deep hole it’s going to stay cold longer inhibiting growth.
It’s important that you protect the young plant right at the very beginning of the season. A lot of people use a wax hot cap in which you put it over the plant and cover dirt around the base, it allows some sun to come through, but mostly prevents it from frost. The season protector we would recommend using although any brand will work, is called a Wall O’Water. Position the Wall O’Water around the tomato plant, adding water to the tubes giving it a good soak, when you do this it will close in on itself to form an enclosure. The water acts like a radiator with the sun warming it up, and it becomes like a greenhouse. It would be a good idea to place stakes on the inside to form a slight opening if the days are forecasted to be hot with temperatures above 75 degrees as to not burn the plant. When the temperatures start to get above 70 degrees consistently, take the Wall O’Water down allowing it to acclimate itself in the now more predictable climate.
Your tomato plant is starting to grow and is becoming more established, the Wall O’Water has been removed and it’s absorbing the full hot sun every day creating that massive root system. When the plant reaches that super boosted stage where it’s going to want to grow six inches a day, it is important to take the branches and tuck them into the cage. Making sure to keep it contained inside of the frame and pinching off the blossoms through the months (until about Memorial Day) will allow the roots to develop even more, and most importantly when it starts to set fruit it will do so in a hurry. When the fruit sets, the branches will get heavy and they will lay over, pinch, and break off if they are not kept supported. In addition to helping your big tomato plant grow to the top of the frame, you’re going to need to continually build layers of nutrients for it to find as it develops, watering them in deeply. The reason you can put Tomato Secret on liberally without worrying about it burning is because it isn’t fertilizer just yet. The ingredients that make up this product must be digested by bacteria in the soil to be readily available to the plant. When putting this product down there will be a constant cycle of the bacteria breaking it down, turning it into fertilizer, and making it accessible when needed. Applying Tomato Secret throughout theseason as a side dressing by sprinkling it all around the planting area as well as where the root growth will extend to is essential.
If you find your tomatoes developing a rotting brown spot on the bottom and you cannot understand what is causing it, it is usually inconsistent watering. This condition is called blossom end rot. Some people add calcium thinking they are preventing blossom end rot, but instead it is a factor of inconsistent watering which inhibits the plant’s ability to absorb the calcium. If you are watering your plant properly and still find this to be an issue, it would then be a good idea to use a foliar calcium spray. The big focus at the end of the season with your tomato plant is how to extend the season so that it is not lost too early. In most cases, the first frost is not followed by frost every single day. If you’re careful you can avoid it and end up with another month or so of the season. The technique is researching the 100-year frost in your town, and it will give you the average frost date. When this date approaches, make sure you are checking with your evening news to compare predictions. You could use an old sheet or buy frost cloth to drape over the top, and then using a type of string or bungee cord to hold it down. You don’t want the frost to settle on your plant because once that tissue has frozen, the flavor of the tomatoes will no longer be good. If you are giving up on the season, and you’re not going to try to protect the tomato plant, then pick the rest of the fruit that remains.
Tomato Harvest Expectations: How many tomatoes will this produce
Depending on the variety you choose, and everything is done right, you could probably expect to get about 200 pounds of tomatoes. Any of the fruit that has begun coloring up will ripen if you put it on the kitchen counter. Even for the green ones, they are still good for you and there are a lot of great recipes on how to use them that are tasty. What’s not to love about a fresh juicy tomato picked right out of your backyard? It’s always better than anything you could ever buy in a store, especially because of all the love that goes into growing them. We hope you find yourself successful in growing your big tomato plant!
For the best tasting tomatoes check out Tomato Secret by Dr. JimZ.