are the happiest tomatoes. Well, not really. Gentle, consistent warmth is what tomato plants want – not only on their leaves and flowers ( tomato pollen is sterilized by temperatures over 85), but also around their roots, which by the way – news flash! – prefer to stay moist.
Tomato Planting Tips
By now your seedlings are probably planted, so it’s too late (for this year) to say the first line of defense is deep planting – set the baby so 1/3 to 1/2 of the stem is underground. Useful new roots will form all along the buried portion.
I used to think it was important to remove leaves and suckers before burial. Bill made fun of me. We did a side by side experiment. He was right; didn’t matter a whit. One less thing.
Ok. They’re in there. Now what? Two things
1. Mulch, really a lot of mulch. We use a thin layer of newspaper – just one fold – under a largish pile of straw. This holds moisture in the soil and helps keep roots from frying. I put my hand down on the uncovered earth when I was weeding yesterday and it was HOT. Not warm. Hot. Not good.
2. Limb them up. If you have no problems with fungus diseases you can stop right here, but if blight has ever visited you, read on.
The scar is difficult to find, but if you look closely at the left side of the stem you’ll see the scar where a branch used to be.
Removing lower leaves and suckers so the stem is naked at the base accomplishes two things:
1. It provides good air circulation, an absolute necessity ( crowding is the mother of disease).
2. It deprives the fungus spores of handy landing spots from which to travel upward. In theory, a timely application of mulch will block spores so they cannot splash up. In practice, it helps but not enough to be relied on exclusively.