Gardening: Best tasting tomatoes are the ones you grow yourself

Tomatoes are one of the most common bedding out plants purchased. Why? The taste of a fresh tomato is superior to any that are purchased in stores.

While there are many different varieties of tomato plant for sale they can be divided into two groups: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate plants usually require a shorter season and may or mayn’t need staked. Indeterminate tomato plants continue to grow upwards until they die. In heated greenhouses or warmer climates the same plant will continue to produce fruit for a number of years.

Growers have made it easy to purchase and grow tomatoes plants by selling tomato plants in pots large enough to last the growing season. Often called patio tomatoes, these plants should be placed in a hot area of the garden where they will have optimum growth. Patio tomatoes should be a determinate variety. Prune back all suckers that grow from the roots and the first couple of axils after which allow the suckers or stems that are growing from leaf axils to flourish. Flower buds and ultimately fruit are born on the end of the branches. Fewer branches mean less fruit.

Determinate varieties, in pots, with the exception of tumblers, are often supported by a cage that supports the weight of the branches and fruit. In the garden where there is more room, branches will slowly fall towards

Fruit clusters on indeterminate plants appear on the stems. Pruning or removing side stems or suckers that grow at a 45 degree angle from between a leaf and stem below the first two flower clusters is recommended. Removing excess foliage from the bottom produces a stronger main stem and increases air circulation leading to healthier plants. Allowing the plant to develop side branches higher up on the stem will increase the number of tomatoes produced.

About a month before the end of season, remove all new suckers encouraging the plant to put energy back into the existing fruit. As the season winds down, remove the plant tops and any flowers that will not have time to develop.

All indeterminate branches need to be supported. This can be done with a trellis, stakes or strings handing down from above. When branches are not supported the fruit becomes too heavy causing the branch or stem to fall which often damages the rest of the plant.

Pinching out unwanted sucker should be done as soon as they appear. This is as easy as wiggling the sucker back and forth to snap it free from the main stem. and stem back and forth. Removing suckers when they are small leaves a small opening that is quickly healed by the plant. Removing larger branches can lead to holes in the stem that are susceptible in insects and diseases.

Tomatoes, like all plants, do best with the correct amount of water and fertilizer. Check the soil before watering. Plants that are just transplanted tend to need less water than ones that are established, actively growing and producing fruit.

Be consistent when watering fruiting tomatoes. A cycle of flood and drought makes it hard for plants to transport calcium throughout the plant. Lack of or n imbalance of calcium can result in blossom end rot.

The amount of fertilizer or nutrient needed depends on the soil. For best results, purchase a tomato fertilizer as it will contain micro nutrients that are essential for a tomato plant’s growth. Follow the instructions on the container.

People often head out and purchase all their patio tomatoes early in the season. Waiting to make the purchase might mean that an outlet will be sold out but it often means that the plants are larger, full of tomatoes and blooms making it a great addition to the patio.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at

Just Posted

City Hall Park construction begins next week

Construction to update Red Deer’s City Hall Park is set to begin… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Jazz at the Lake begins

The 16 annual event began Friday and runs until Sunday in Sylvan Lake

Lunchtime tunes on Alexander Way

Final concert of the summer

Clearwater regional firefighters in B.C.

Crew operating west of Prince George

PHOTOS: Samson Cree Nation Pow Wow

The Samson Cree Nation hosted its annual Pow Wow, celebrating youth last weekend

WATCH: Feasting at Red Deer Ribfest this weekend

Ribfest runs until Sunday at Rotary Recreation Park

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Death Valley worker has seen highest, lowest temperatures

LAS VEGAS — Thousands of tourists descend on Death Valley each summer… Continue reading

Banff’s Sunshine ski resort upset with proposed guidelines from Parks Canada

BANFF, Alta. — An internationally known ski resort in Banff National Park… Continue reading

Folk singer Ian Tyson cancels show due to ‘serious medical situation’

TORONTO — Canadian folk singer-songwriter Ian Tyson has cancelled his appearance at… Continue reading

Judge lifts publication ban, revealing details about Fredericton shooting

FREDERICTON — Newly released documents reveal how last week’s deadly attack unfolded… Continue reading

Canada’s tax system unfairly favours wealthy, poll of CRA auditors suggests

OTTAWA — A recent union-sponsored survey suggests an overwhelming majority of federal… Continue reading

Canadian soccer captain Christine Sinclair continues to lead fight against MS

TORONTO — Christine Sinclair continues to have an impact on and off… Continue reading

In Franklin’s anthems, women heard an empowering message

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin never saw herself as a feminist heroine.… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month