Tomatoes have always been one of my favourite plants to grow. They come in so many colours, shapes, and flavours, they can add visual appeal as well as luscious fruit to your garden. And I enjoy sharing the harvest with family and friends. I  want to make sure I’m getting all the tomatoes possible from the plants that I have, especially in my suburban garden with limited space. In this article, I’ll share some simple ways to boost your tomato production so that you will have plenty to share.

1. Soil Preparation is Key

When trying to figure out how to increase tomato yield, preparation starts before the plants are in the ground. (but if your plants are already in, make sure to remember this tip for next year.) Tomatoes need deep, rich, and well-drained soil so preparing your planting space is important. Some people get thierr soil tested to find out what nutrients need to be added, but I find that a good amount of compost mixed into the soil before planting helps my tomatoes thrive. If I can, I test to make sure the soil is slightly acidic, because tomatoes prefer that. Make sure that the soil is turned, loosened, and amended as deep as you can reasonably go – try for a depth of at least a foot — the deeper the better. (More on this later.)

2. Add Eggshells When Planting

You’ve probably seen tomatoes that get a black spot on the bottom end. Blossom end rot is one of the biggest problems when growing tomatoes and it is heartbreaking to see your almost ripe tomatoes begin to rot on the vine. Lack of calcium is the culprit. But don’t worry – you probably have a ready supply in your kitchen. Don’t throw away your eggshells – rinse them well in cold water and leave them out to dry on a paper towel. Crush them up and add some to each hole when you are setting out your tomato seedlings in the garden. If you haven’t already added eggshells and blossom end rot begins to show up, water with some powdered milk and quickly remove all affected fruit.

3. Plant Your Seedlings Deep

Whether you’ve grown your tomatoes from seed or purchased them at a local nursery, when you’re ready to plant them outside in the garden, make sure to remove some of the bottom leaves on the stem and plant them deep.

Those little hairs on the stems are actually potential roots, and once in the soil, they will develop and create an even larger root network for your plant. Leave just a few stems at the top of the plant and bury as much stem as you can while keeping any leaves from touching the soil. Always water your new transplants well for the first few days to help them overcome the shock. And if you have a cloudy day for your planting, even better – the transplant shock will be less.

4. Tomatoes Need Elbow Room to Grow

The spacing directions on the seed packet can seem excessive when you are planting out your little seedlings, but remember just how large one tomato plant can grow! Even cherry tomatoes need more room than you may realize. Make sure to check if your tomatoes are determinate (bush tomatoes) or indeterminate (vining tomatoes) since indeterminate tomatoes need more room while they continue to grow and set fruit throughout the season.

On average, tomatoes should be spaced about two feet apart, and some need about three feet. Remember you want to be able to move about the plants for harvesting and you don’t want them too crowded; otherwise, they may stay too damp and suffer from mildew, fungus, and blight.

I have limited square footage in my narrow gardens, so I choose indeterminate plants and grow them vertically, which means I can space them slightly closer together. This requires almost daily pruning, but with care, I can get a huge yield. Yes, that’s my garden in the photo. I’ll be doing an article on vertical gardening soon.

5. Tomatoes Are Thirsty

Tomatoes need regular, deep watering for growth and fruiting. Irregular watering stresses plants. If they get too dry and then get too much water while setting fruit, you can end up with tomatoes that develop tough skins, and then split open. Keep an eye on the weather and monitor your plants closely. You never want to let the soil dry out completely. When you water, you want to make sure to water deeply so that the deepest roots can get nutrients from the soil. Try to make sure that the leaves stay dry to help keep fungus and disease at bay, so water at the roots as much as possible.

6. Tuck Your Tomatoes Into Their Beds

Mulching around your plants is so beneficial that if you only do one of these tips, this might be the one. Adding mulch helps keep water in the soil by slowing evaporation, helps keep the soil temperature steady and comfy for your plants, prevents bacteria and diseases from splashing up from the soil and contaminating your plants, as well as suppressing weeds and just looking nice. I mulch with compost, rather than commercially available wood mulch, so as it breaks down it enriches the soil year after year.

I hope these tips will be of use to you in your gardens.

If you have tips of your own, please share them in the comments!