You want to grow tomatoes but are unsure how to make them grow faster.
A lot of people would love to be able to grow their tomatoes, but they don’t have a lot of time. Some people live in areas with such short growing seasons that they need every day possible to grow their tomato plants.
If this sounds like you, read on.
This blog post gives you five tips on how to make tomato plants grow faster. By following these simple tips, you’ll be able to enjoy homegrown tomatoes as soon as possible.
Make Sure Seedlings are Healthy: As Green and Strong as Possible
The quality of your seeds or seedlings will significantly impact the speed and success of your tomato plants. Look for seeds or seedlings that are disease-resistant and well-adapted to your local climate.
If you’re starting from seed, plant them in sterile, well-draining soil at the proper depth and temperature.
I start my tomato seedlings with a heat mat under them to warm the seeds and soil to at least 70 degrees F. This will ensure the seeds sprout as quickly as possible.
The picture above shows the seedlings being sprouted on a heat mat (click here to check the current price). This ensures that your seeds sprout as quickly as possible. Tomatoes love a warm soil temperature, so the seedling mat helps the tomatoes grow faster.
If you’re purchasing tomato seedlings, make sure they are stocky for their age, with thick stems and large green leaves. There should be no yellow leaves and the stems should not be leggy (long and stretched out).
Plant Properly & Provide Plenty of Sunlight
How to Plant Properly
Tomatoes need to be planted in a specific way to ensure that they begin producing fruit as soon as possible and you can begin picking tomatoes quickly.
When ready to plant, dig a deep planting hole, add your organic fertilizer to the bottom and mix it with the soil. Plant the tomato seedling deeply into the hole, leaving only a couple of inches of stem above the ground.
When you plant tomato seedlings deeply, you allow the stem to grow roots all along the buried part of the stem. The more robust root system means the plants absorb enough nutrients and grow faster.
Tomatoes Need A lot of Sunlight
Tomatoes need plenty of sunlight to grow and produce fruit. They require a ton of solar energy to drive all that growth, so they need at least 6-8 hours of direct sun per day.
If you don’t have a sunny spot in your yard, tomatoes aren’t for you. That sounds harsh, but choosing other veggies that need less light will save you a ton of heartache if you don’t have a spot in your yard that gets AT LEAST 6 hours of sun per day.
Water Deeply and Regularly
Proper watering is essential for healthy tomato growth and is critical for your plants to grow as quickly as possible.
Tomatoes love to be watered deeply, so water your plants deeply and consistently, moistening the entire root zone and watering for quite a while.
Tomatoes have deep roots, so it’s better to water them less frequently but more deeply.
If you water frequently but for only short periods, you’ll only water the plant’s shallow roots. The plant will grow slowly and won’t bear ripe fruit as quickly as possible.
Mulch Tomato Plants and Water them Regularly
Also avoid letting the soil dry out or become waterlogged, as this can lead to problems such as blossom end rot or root rot.
You can accomplish this by putting organic mulch or shredded leaves around the base of the plants.
This mulch helps to regulate the moisture around the tomato plant and keeps the soil from going through extreme wet-dry-wet-dry cycles. Mulch also helps conserve soil moisture which is a bonus.
Tomatoes are susceptible to inconsistent watering. Low levels of water will stunt their growth and high levels of water can lead to cracked fruit. The stunted growth mainly causes the fruiting process to slow down.
Tomatoes are heavy feeders and will benefit from regular fertilization.
Many of us do a great job fertilizing tomatoes right when we plant them, but we don’t continue with fertilizer after that. This is a mistake.
Proposed Fertilizer Schedule
- At planting, use a tablespoon of organic granular fertilizer. I like Espoma products for this, like Biotone Starter Plus, Garden Tone, or Tomato Tone.
- Once per month after planting, side-dress each plant with a tablespoon of the same fertilizer you used at planting, work into the soil, and water in thoroughly.
The second step is the one that many people skip, and skipping it causes your tomatoes to take longer to grow.
Organic fertilizer can take about one month to break down, and watering causes the fertilizer to wash away over time. Consistent fertilizer will help grow fruit faster by supplying a steady supply of nutrients.
The fertilizers I mention are perfect for tomato plants because they aren’t exceptionally high nitrogen fertilizers.
If high nitrogen fertilizer is used, there could be excessive green leaf growth at the expense of fruit production.
Stake Your Tomato Plants and Prune Them Often
Pruning your tomato plants can help increase air circulation and sunlight exposure, improving overall growth and fruit production.
Remove any suckers (shoots that grow between the main stem and side branches) and trim back any branches that are overcrowding the plant. Do this every 2-3 weeks during the growing season. Take all your tomato cuttings from suckers and root them to make even more plants for free.
Staking or caging your plants can also help support the fruit’s weight and prevent the plants from toppling.
Pruning helps to focus plant growth into fruit production so that your tomato plants set fruit and ripen quickly.
Bonus Tip: Choose the Right Tomato Varieties
Choose fast-growing tomato plants that ripen quickly to set yourself up for early tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes ripen faster than large slicer varieties.
In conclusion, there are several steps you can take to help your tomato plants grow faster and more efficiently.
Following the tips above give your growing tomatoes the best chance at early tomatoes and a healthy and productive growing season!