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April 12, 2012



You have inspired our small family (husband, wife, and dog) to grow tomatoes with the works here in Olympia, Washington. If we can't make you classes (location and all), where would you recommend learning about tomato growing further? Thanks for the AMAZINGLY informative and fun to read, read. :)

Emma kate brown

i was woundering what a begning tomato plant looks like can u tell me that

Love Apple Farm

Anthony: You should water your tomatoes when the soil looks dry after you dig down into it with your hands about 3 or 4 inches. Nothing on a schedule, nothing on a timer. It depends on rainfall, the type of soil you have, how hot it's been. All variables that need paying attention to in order to water your tomatoes properly.

Anthony Emmons

How often should you water your tomatoes I live in New Jersey thanks?

Love Apple Farm

If the plants you got are shorter than 6 inches, wait a week or two to transplant them. The proper care for them while you're waiting is to have them in full sun, with dappled shade in the afternoon, and then inside at night. Don't put them in a sunny window, that's not the same effect as being in natural sunlight and air. Brand new plants purchased from my greenhouse need a gentle introduction to direct sunlight anyway, or else they'll scorch (something like when we try to get a suntan on our first day on vacation).


I have recently bought some tomatoe plants from your farm, they are very small, can I plant then in my 15 gallon pot straight away or do I need to wait until they are larger.


Fascinating suggestions. For those who live in an area of the country where fish heads, etc are not reasonably available, there are excellent fish fertilizer products available from numerous sources to include East Coast Organics in Baltimore.

Love Apple Farm

Rojoco: Yes, you can give similar treatment to peppers, as they are sisters of tomatoes. But I wouldn't plant them as deep, and that sure is a lot of work for just one pepper plant!


I can't wait to try this on my tomatoes! Would peppers benefit as well?


Thanks for this guidelines, I really need it for plant a tomato.

mss @ Zanthan Gardens

I really like these great step-by-step instructions. I do a lot of the same stuff except for watering. Austin in its 18th month of drought and I've learned that when I transplant anything (from larkspur seedling to roses or trees) that the first thing I do after I dig the hole is fill it with water and let it drain before adding anything to the hole. Then when I put the plant in, I fill the hole with water again to cover the roots, fill in the hole some more and water again. This ensures that the moisture is down deep underneath the roots.

This year I'm trying something new with my tomatoes. I'm planting a liter water bottle next to them with holes punched in the bottom. Instead of watering them with soaker hoses, I pour water into the bottles which drip slowly near the root zone.


Hi Cynthia,

Good job on the description. I do mine a bit different. For 4 plants (3-big boys and 1-cherry tomato) I obtained 3x5gal buckets full of fish guts,heads,bodies,juices etc...

Plants were about 18 inches high, about the same as your example.

Dug deep trench, put in ALL 3 buckets of fish guts and put a layer of 1 inch of soil and manure (soil had been pre-prepared with lots of manure, compost and tripple 16 fertilizer a month or more ago).

Put the tomatoes on top of dirt and SLOWLY covered leaf by leaf (lower leaves) until I had the tomato buried up to its top two rows of leaves. Then used the remaind of dirt to create a wall mound around the tomatoes aproximately 1 foot away from the tomato stocks. This berm is for containing the water localy.


As the tomato plants grow, I will prune the lower ones until about 8 - 12 inches high.

Also I will add additional fertilizer/manure to the berm to keep it high and instead of pruning low I can also increase the ground height along with the berm and bury an additional row of leaves.

Watering will be every 3 to 5 days depending on weather conditions.

Also I do not leave any flowers on the plant until it has reached back to a couple of feet high.

The plant support was achieved by placing horizontally 3 trellis which were supported by 4 iron fence stakes at its 4 edges. The trellises were wired to the posts at 3 different heights.

The first trellis is about 18 to 20 inches high, the second is about 3 ft to 40 inches high and the 3 rd is around 4.75 to 5 feet high.

The trellises were handmade using the 1x1 wood pieces used in fences. The trellises are aprox. 5.5 ft long x 2.5 ft wide. The size of the squares 9x9 inches or so.

We will see how they turn out...Hopefully it will be a good year.

art smith

Dear Cynthia,

Great web site! We raised five big sons on what we grew in our Florida garden. I dig trenches instead of the holes and I companion plant scallions and garlic in between my tomato plants. They help keep the bugs away and I've never noticed any impact on the taste of the tomatoes. I do have to prune aggressively, as we have a lot of wilt and fungi that will take off if there isn't enough air circulation. I always let one section of the garden sit fallow each year and our soil stays in great shape without having to add any fertilizer, just natural compost and horse manure. I also border the garden with marigolds with also helps with the undesirables.
For anyone attempting to grow veggies in Florida's sandy soil, be patient and keep building your soil-it's harder than up north but it will produce a lot of great fruit if you hang in there!

Love Apple Farm

Ursula: Greenhouses do indeed get quite hot with direct sunlight. They need a thermostat and automatic venting and cooling to make it the proper temps for tomatoes. They don't want to be below 55 degrees or above 85 degrees too much. Epsom salts is a good source of magnesium, but if your soil is not deficient in it, then adding it might be too much. Tomatoes do suffer with a lot of rain and fog that gets their leaves wet. A regimen of aspirin spray has been shown to help a tomato ward off various diseases. A regimen of Serenade organic fungicide also helps with that. As far as square foot gardening, tomatoes will need at least four square feet if trellised upward properly They would do better with nine square feet, though.


I would like to grow tomatoes in a greenhouse in Canada, but it get pretty warm in there, would that be ok with adequate watering.
Also in Florida they have a lot of fog and subsequent disease on the leaves which can kill a plant in a very short time. Is that why you use aspirin. What does this do anyway?
I use epsom salt, is that ok from an organic standpoint?
Do you know anything about spacing plants in a square foot garden?


omg disgutsing but i guss it koolio kinda yo!?!?

Love Apple Farm

Cindy: Don't know what happened to those Copia seeds. It's obvious that somehow they got mixed up, either during the seed sowing class or afterwards. That happens! The smallish orange variety that you are now describing sounds to me like Juane Flammee.


Hi Cynthia, I too am enjoying my first tomatoes from the seeds I planted at your February 10th class. I put them out in the garden on May 11th and all 18 are doing great. (I did find loving homes for the other ~120 little plants and they are all doing well too.) Brad's Black Heart is yummy as is White Tomasol. All are true to descriptions given except my Copia. I am getting small, orange fruit vs. the medium striped fruit I expected. They are somewhat like a sungold but a bit larger and more orange than gold. any ideas what errant seed may have found it way into the Copia? I tasted my first Mandarin Cross today and it is fabulous too. I have grown tomatoes for 25 years but I am have been rejuvenated by your class and website. Thanks!


Thanks Cynthia! I looked at the Max Sea and it's 14-18-14. Maybe too much nitrogen, so I'll make some worm tea. I was being very lazy about making worm tea, so I'll have to motivate. My plants were really crowded within the cage in terms of foliage. I had always done one plant per pot, but you suggested two, since my pots are 24 inches across the top, and only narrow down to about 20 inches at the bottom. I have a lot of flowers, but only a third of them have set as fruit. I will need to build new supports because mine only go up 4 feet. My previous tomato plants never got much higher than that. Must be the fish heads :-) Most of my blossoms are at the 5 foot stage at the top of the plant.

Of course I have my large bottle of aspirin, and worm castings, so I will get to work .

Love Apple Farm

Julie: Wow, a lot of issues here. First off, I don't typically prune branches off my tomatoes, unless they are so dense inside the cage that I need to get more light in there. I show how to do this in my Tomato Masters Class (see the class page for details on that). I'm sorry you pruned so much off your plants - next time go ahead and email me your question ahead of time. The dry fertilizer is only applied in the planting hole, with supplemental fertilization done with liquid worm casting tea (or other all purpose organic liquid fertilizer) once a week in a pot. I don't put two plants per pot, unless the pots are half wine barrels. I detail this in the growing instructions on a separate page here on this website. The MaxSea sounds like it might be heavy in nitrogen, which would mean you would get a lot of foliage and not very many blossoms. If you fertilized with some liquid phosphorus and sprayed with the aspirin spray I also talk about on grow page, you will get more blossoms. That is what I recommend now. And yes, in a pot, they will need almost daily watering. I see that you did read the instructions, but you've got a few things mixed up, so please go back and read the instructions again. Good luck! No more pruning, now, ok?


I followed all of your instructions, and got everything including fish heads. The only thing I'm not sure about is once the plants are growing, what I'm supposed to prune. I've never pruned before because I had no idea what I was doing. So this year my plants have grown really tall, about 5 feet, and have lots of flowers, but hardly any fruit is setting. They are in 24 inch pots with two tomatoes per pot at your suggestion. I searched your site for how to prune and didn't find anything. So I went on the internet, and most sites I found said to cut off all of the non flower and non fruit bearing branches. So I did-hopefully I didn't screw it up. The plants look ugly now as the site said they would.

I've been extremely careful not to overwater, and if anything I may have underwatered. It's difficult with plants in pots, and with the 100 degree plus days in San Jose.

I'm also unsure about how often to add the dry fertilizer once they're growing in the pots. I am doing a foliar fertilizer spray (Maxsea) , and spraying the Serenade.


Excellent info. Great job and thank you for the many tips!

Laura Albrecht

Thank you so much for your lovely tips on growing tomatoes. I read and followed your earlier posting (without the photos) and my tomato plants are as healthy as ever! I learn something every time I visit your blog. Thanks, and keep up the good work.


I didn't think of fish heads, but I do use that fishy fertilizer. It smells awful for about a day, but the plants seem to love it. I also bought mesh-type construction wire at Lumbermen's (they use it as a reinforcement for concrete floors) and formed it into cages. The mesh is about 2 inches. It works great to keep the deer away from my plants. So I can access the fruit, I cut openings in a few places... just enough to get my hands in, but not large enough to allow the deer.

I also plant in 15-gallon pots... the size that tree saplings come in. I have gophers and sandy soil here in Scotts Valley, so this helps me protect my plants while controlling the soil quality, moisture and fertilizer. My plants perform way better than they ever did in the ground. And each year, I can dump the old soil onto my flowerbed and start with new soil for the tomatoes.

Love Apple Farm

There are a lot of factors that go into "taste" for a tomato. First off, there is the subjective side of it. Not everyone agrees what tastes "good." Aside from that, too much water - either from you or from overnight dew - can make a tomato taste mealy. Not enough sunlight will adversely affect the taste of a tomato too. I also know of ways to fertilize (with more potassium fertilizers) that help the taste of tomatoes. All of those factors and more I discuss in my Tomato Masters Class in mid summer (date tbd).

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