Tomato Myths & more

A cluster of Sun Gold tomatoes comin' on at Bottle Hollow Farm.

Did you know?...

Tomatoes are the most popular crop

for home gardens in America.

However, that was not always the case. At the
time of the American Revolution, tomatoes would have been a rare find in the garden. A few progressive gardeners, like Thomas Jefferson, grew tomatoes. But, many folks feared that tomatoes were poisonous. Plus, most tomatoes of that time were more like their wild cousins; small and curious fruits. Plant breeding efforts, mostly during the 1900s, brought forth lots of improvements in tomato varieties that eventually led to tomato garden dominance.

Myth #2

"Pinching all the suckers off my tomato
plant will give bigger yields and

bigger tomatoes."

Not so much. Hold off before you pinch indiscriminately.

The majority of tomato varieties

are classed as indeterminate

plants. Those have a vine-like 

habit and will tend to keep

growing, sprawling and climbing

all season long. Indeterminate

plants can produce an abundance of "suckers", small leaflets that emerge in the angle where stems meet the main branch. Left alone, those suckers can become new branches that can make their own suckers, and on and on.

Each new branch has the potential to bear additional clusters of tomatoes. So, pinching suckers can significantly reduce the total amount of tomatoes the plant could bear.

As for fruit size, the plant will want to grow the size and shape of tomatoes that its genes dictate. Unless the plant is restricted in some way, such as growing in poor soil or being in a container, reducing the amount of tomatoes the plant produces wont' really change their size.

Overall, your system of growing tomatoes should determine how much "suckering" you do. For instance, if you support the plant on a stake, you will probably need to do a lot pinching to keep the plant manageable. On the contrary, the same plant grown in a tomato cage could be left to sprawl and fill up the cage with little if any pinching.

"Bush" determinate and dwarf tomato varieties have a more compact growth habit that usually will not require suckering.

Myth #1

Not a great idea. Too much fertilizer doesn't do any good and can actually cause a lot of problems.

Let's take nitrogen for example, because that's a very common fertilizer that many gardeners add. Tomato plants that are over-fed with nitrogen can grow lush and thick foliage, but produce very few tomatoes. If you get a few fruits from that monster plant, you may not care too much for them
anyway. All that excess nitrate

can impart an "off flavor" that
ruins the natural tomato taste.

Another issue with overuse of
fertilizers is pests. Plants are
out-of-balance and unhealthy when overdosed with fertilizers. That makes them more inviting to insects. Insect populations can explode when plants are "sweating" excess nitrates that the pests feed on.

What's the answer? For us, here at Bottle Hollow, we never use chemical fertilizers. We concentrate on building healthy soil, allowing the plants to grow in a natural manner. In our opinion, a more harmonious approach to growing plants yields better results; and much better flavor!

"I can throw a lot of fertilizer at my

tomato plants and grow giant tomatoes!"

Did you know?...

The difference between a "red" tomato and
a "pink" tomato is the color of the skin.
When we view a whole uncut tomato, the color
we perceive is a combination of the interior flesh color and the skin color.
"Red" tomatoes have red flesh covered with yellow skin. "Pink" tomatoes have red flesh with clear skin.

Myth #3

Some tomato varieties are known for their ability to produce "low acid" fruits. This is especially common among yellow and orange tomatoes.
The acidity of all tomatoes falls in a narrow range of about 4.2 to 4.4 pH.
Tomatoes with a "low
acid" taste are actually
higher in sugar
content, which sweetens
the flavor by masking
the inherent acidity.

The "low acid" tomato myth.

We hope you enjoy this page of tomato tips and tidbits. As with anything, your results may vary. When it comes to planting and growing tomatoes, if you disagree with anything you see here or if you have a different approach that works, certainly do what's best for your situation.