Mulch The Secret To Growing The Best Tomatoes

I often advocate the use of mulches for your tomato garden. A good mulch used correctly can be of great benefit. However there are both good and bad mulches and right and wrong ways to apply them. Knowing the differences are vital and getting mulching right will have a dramatic effect on your tomato garden.

The Benefits of Mulching

  • can protect your soil from erosion by heavy rains

  • wards against soil compaction

  • discourages weed growth

  • insulates the soil evening out temperature effects

  • helps regulate water loss, evening out watering requirements somewhat

  • improves soil composition (if organic)

  • helps isolate the soil from the leaves and reduce the likelihood of soil borne diseases spreading

Choosing a Good Mulch

There are various materials that you can make mulch with. The key really is to match the crop to the mulch. Some of the more usual and unusual mulches (with comments listed) are…

  • Compost – has the benefit of adding organic matter to the ground but looks unsightly and if it contains moulds and spores can be more detrimental than beneficial. Not strictly a mulch.

  • Lawn Clippings – can contain grass seeds if it is from a late spring growing and as you want a garden not a second lawn this is not a desirable thing. Also if the lawn has been treated with Herbicide or Weed Killer it will not be a pretty thing. If you want to use grass clippings then let them dry out completely first.

  • Leaves – be wary about using leaves that have not been aged for a considerable period (at least nine months) as the phenols which inhibit growth may still be present.

  • Sawdust – again it is best if it is allowed to decompose for a year before use and you will require additional Nitrogen if using it.

  • Straw – messy and can be hard to apply but is an excellent mulch. Not free you have to buy it. Definitely do not use hay though as it is full of weed seeds.

  • Wood Chips – same as sawdust essentially with the added issue that they should not be dug into the soil, which can be an issue.

  • Newspaper – quite commonly used. Will fly away very easily so usually needs to be watered in and requires a heavier mulch over the top which seems to be self defeating to me.

  • Black Plastic – environmentally unfriendly. Best to put in down before transplanting and then cut holes to lay plants in however if this seems attractive then you should consider…

  • Landscape Fabric – easier to work with than plastic and lets natural water through. Better still though is…

  • Bio-degradable Weed Mats – all the benefits of plastic and fabric and completely eco-friendly.

  • Pea Straw – Adds good organic matter. Decomposes quickly and can be sown in at the end of the season.

  • Barley Straw – Softer than Pea and other straws and absorbs water more readily.

How to Apply Mulch

Mulch is not difficult to apply generally speaking as it is essentially just surrounding the plants with the materials used. However there are some points that definitely need to be followed…

  • The first and most important point is don’t mulch until the plant has established itself. Mulching fresh seedlings is not good. Remember that one of the effects of mulching is to retard new growth, which is how it helps to control weeds. Obviously this is counter productive for fresh seedlings.

  • Weed your garden prior to applying any mulch. For the same reasons as the first point we want to make it hard for weeds to establish themselves.
  • Put a good amount of mulch around each individual plant a two or three inch layer is good.
  • DO NOT place the mulch closer to the plant stem than three inches. Mulch right up against the stem can encourage rot.

Best Mulch for Tomatoes

Barley or Pea Straw would be a top choice or Bio-degradable mats. Landscape fabric is good to lay from scratch if you are setting up your garden and can be easier to manage. Unfortunately none of these are free so your budget will be a consideration in your choice.


The subject of mulching should be a simple one. If you understand the reasons that you are using mulch and the requirements of your particular vegetable then simply pick one that you like which will fit the bill and go for it.

One last thing… remember that this article is written with tomatoes in mind and the information will not apply to all vegetables. Good growing…

Want to learn more about watering tomato plants []? Visit my website at [] helpful tips and information on planting and caring for a thriving tomato garden.

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Learn To Plant Tomato Seeds Correctly

Tomatoes are one of the most popular ingredients in our recipes. Many people do experience tomato growing problems even though they are one of the common fruit vegetables that families can easily cultivate at home. In order to reap bountiful of luscious fruit crops make sure that you choose the right variety of tomato. The appropriate variety is dependent on where you intend to grow your tomato plants.

The constant mistakes frequently encountered by most people starting to grow tomatoes at home are incorrect choice of variety, when to plant, over planting, planting in the wrong area, growth of pests, and insufficient knowledge on how to successfully grow tomatoes in your own backyard.

All these problems can be avoided if you know how to effectively grow tomato plants at home. Let us discuss on each matter one by one. The first is what type of variety you should choose if you have limited garden space. There are two kinds of varieties, the determinate and indeterminate kind. If you have only a small space you may opt to choose the determinate kind which means they will grow only for about three inches in height. Pots or any containers are suitable for planting tomatoes with small places or having a patio.

However if space is not an issue then you may choose to grow an heirloom tomato plant in your back-garden. Another thing is to avoid too much supply of tomatoes during harvest. Therefore, you may simultaneously plant tomato seedlings to ensure proper timing and constant supply of tomatoes all throughout the season. Planting one or two fruit bearing plants at a time is sufficient enough but is solely dependent on the immensity of consumption needs.

It would be a waste if you plant more than what you can eat because it will only rot. Knowing when to plant gives you the correct time frame and frequency of growing your tomato seedlings, thus you will know how to divide you planting schedule. Always remember that the absolute time for growing tomato plant is 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature during the day must be 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

Tomatoes planted in the months of March to May, the first tomato does not ripe until late July. Full production of tomato fruits usually begins early August when planted early May. Tomato plants cannot tolerate frost so it is advisable that you schedule planting in the month of June in order to harvest in November just in time before the first frost in December. For home growers with cold climates may make their own portable greenhouse to avoid problems growing tomatoes. In this way, allowing the plants to gradually and safely be exposed to the colder temperature of their outdoor garden.

Another way to avoid problems growing tomato plants is to ascertain that the tomato plant gets six to eight hours of sunlight every day. If the sun gets too hot you may use a newspaper to cover them. To add to that make sure that the plants are provided evenly with sunlight therefore constantly turn the plants around or place it where sufficient supply of sunlight is provided. The reason you do this is because homegrown tomatoes tend to grow toward the direction of the sun. Home tomato growers who prefer to plant tomato seedlings must wait five to six weeks before transplanting them outdoors. If the plant has grown at least six leaves then it is ready to be transplanted to your garden. Before doing so, tilt the garden soil well and should be slightly acidic with a 5.5 to 7.8 ph level. Growing tomato plants with well maintained soil that is moist, fertile and high in organic matters as that will help in growing enormous and crisp fruit crops.

With these simple guidelines you should be able to avoid problems growing tomatoes at home. Experience the confidence of enjoying fresh organic home-grown tomato fruit in your own garden.

Lisa Lovelock has been a tomato growing enthusiast for many years and loves showing others how to grow tomatoes successfully too. If you wish to read more useful and unique tips on how to avoid tomato problems growing [] or to get her Free ‘Growing Tomatoes Successfully’ mini-course then visit her site

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Companion Planting Tomatoes

Are you growing tomatoes in your vegetable garden this year? And with all that effort, you’re definitely going to want to grow bright, juicy, red fruit that tastes heavenly. Growing tomatoes together with other, very specific vegetables, herbs or flowers can be of great benefit to the health of the plants you are putting all your time and effort into.

Companion planting is a gardening method that involves pairing vegetable plants together so they thrive better when they are grown together. It has been shown that strawberries and green beans grow better together than they do when they are grown separately. Another known pairing is Bibb lettuce with spinach. These plants are known to have complementary physical needs, thus making them great companions.

Every beginner gardener needs to know that when growing tomatoes, the plants need to be pollinated to produce fruit. Attracting pollinating insects is the best way to pollinate your fruit. If there are no insects around, an alternative is to gently shake the plants by hand so that the pollen from the males reaches the female receptors. Companion planting with flowers is a terrific method for attracting pollinator insects such as bees. Try planting petunias or heliotrope beside your growing tomatoes. Pollination is just one of the benefits of companion planting.

The other benefit to companion planting is that you can actually repel unwanted insects that might otherwise be attracted to your vegetable plants. If you place flowering plants such as pot marigolds (Calendula) near your growing tomatoes, you will be armed with one of the great pest deterrents of the garden. Pot marigolds discourage many insects such as asparagus beetle and tomato worm.

Garlic is also a great repellant. It can help keep spider mites at bay, especially during the hottest summer months. I always find that garlic and onions smell so strongly when they are planted in the vegetable garden. Just imagine what kind of a sensory response an insect might have!

Parsley and basil, when planted around growing tomatoes may help to grow vigorous plants. Many gardeners have noted healthier, tastier fruit when planted together with parsley and basil. Perhaps this is why they taste so great together! Bee balm and mint are some other herb companions for growing tomatoes as they help improve growth and flavor.

On the other hand, there is a case to be made for avoiding growing tomatoes and potatoes together. They are both in the nightshade family, which means they are susceptible to the same diseases, in this case, blight. If one vegetable gets blight, it will easily spread to the other plant. Other vegetables to avoid having nearby are fennel, cabbage and Kohlrabi.

Other tips for growing tomatoes successfully include using the tomato plants themselves to make compost. Tomatoes love to rise out of the compost of previous tomato plants. And, it is beneficial to use the same spot for growing tomatoes for a period of five years. That sounds like a commitment well worth the effort, given the succulent rewards.

And finally, if you want to discover more about vegetable gardening, you should visit for more resources like this article. Discover raised bed vegetable gardening and tips for growing, planting and harvesting your own vegetables grown at home. Click on the link above and visit the website. Jessica Salvador is a Certified Landscape Horticulturist living in Vancouver, BC.

Thanks for reading!

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Secrets To Growing Organic Tomatoes

In this day and age, the importance of eating healthy has increased tenfold. The focus has specifically gone upon how our food is grown and the consumption of that food. Organic foods have grown in popularity and are considered a sublime option in terms of nutrition.

The awareness about pesticides used has increased the demand for organic farming. Many people have started planting and growing their own organic foods and this includes tomatoes.

This article will talk about the 5 secrets to plant and grow organic tomatoes.

Secret #1: Understand the Importance of Sunlight

Growth of any plant begins and ends with a specific scientific process. Without indulging into the gritty details, this process demands for a boatload of sunlight. Tomatoes are a specific item that require a substantial amount of sunlight in order to grow efficiently. It is highly recommended to plant your tomato seeds in the sunniest place of your garden.

If you wish to see those tomatoes grow into magnificent ripe fruits ready for consumption, sunlight is crucial. Letting them sit in the shady areas of your garden will lead to certain disappointment.

Secret #2: Fanning your Tomato Plant

A natural breeze is often an accustomed part of growing tomatoes. However, there are times when the air is at a complete standstill. This is a negative for your tomato plants.

Due to the on/off nature of breezes, it is imperative to provide your own breeze. This can come in the form of a fan being directed in the general direction of the plants.

10-15 minutes of this is more than enough to do the job. The reason behind the breeze is to strengthen the plant’s base, be careful when providing the breeze. The idea is not to end up knocking the plant over.

Secret #3: Focus on the Roots

The glamour business of a tomato plant might begin with the leaves. However, the real action occurs at the root level under the soil. When planting your tomato plants ensure they are buried deep and well. Only a few leaves should be sprouting out of the ground initially. Do not let it stick out too much otherwise the foundation won’t be strong enough for growth purposes.

Secret #4: Water your plants

Common sense, but it is often not done in the desired manner. Watering your tomato plants is important, but it is crucial to do it correctly.

Consistency with your watering habits is what leads to significant growth of your plant. An on/off process with your watering will lead to a wilting plant and insufficient results. Focus on making a schedule for your watering duties and follow them strictly. The effort you put into your garden will show in the tomatoes you end up growing.

Secret #5: Pruning

Make sure as the tomato plant grows, you are pruning the excess leaves. These leaves will be taking away from the ability for your tomatoes to grow in a healthy manner.

When pruning, do not overdo it. The reason for this is those leaves provide taste for your tomatoes. If too much is pruned away, your final product will be a bland tasting fruit.

These are the 5 secrets to plant and grow organic tomatoes. Utilize these secrets and watch as you grow delicious and beautiful looking tomatoes.

“Is Your Garden Poisoning You, Your Children, Your Pets and Your Neighbors?”

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My Tips For Growing Tomatoes

Wondering how to nurture a healthy plant to produce succulent tomatoes? Here are a few but successfully tested tips to give you the healthiest harvest of tomatoes to give you that lip-smacking salad!!

Firstly, tomatoes love heat! So, preheat the soil in your garden by placing a black or red plastic cover over the area intended for sowing, for a couple of weeks. This provides extra degrees of warmth to the area where the tomatoes are to be grown. Secondly, make sure the tomato plant is sown deep in the soil.

Seedlings are typically planted after they have developed about six leaves. Plant the seedlings deep enough so that only the top four leaves are showing. This also helps the tomato plant to create a stronger root system. The seedlings can also be sown sideways within a shallow trench. Care should be taken while inserting a stake into the soil, for the tomato plant to lean on while growing, so that it does not pierce the root system. Following these steps will definitely yield a great harvest.

Maintaining the plant requires a lot of attention from the growers. Pruning the suckers that develop in the joint of two branches of the plant essential as they suck the energy from the plant since they do not bear fruit. Leaves should also be pruned, although not too many, to allow sunlight to reach the ripening fruit. It should be noted that the leaves are the “kitchens” of the plant where, by the process photosynthesis, food in the form of sugars are prepared to provide the plant’s much needed sustenance. The tomato plants need to be watered regularly and enough to allow water to seep deep into the soil. Missing a few days of watering and trying to make up for it later leads to the rotting and cracking of the blossoms. However once the fruit begins to ripen, less watering should be done to allow the sugars in the plant to become concentrated. Stress and wilting of the plant will result in drooping of the blossoms and fruits if too much water is withheld

These well proven suggestions have been heeded by many tomato plant growers which have helped to support the health of the tomato plants and have led to an increase in the quantity and quality of tomatoes.

For more information on growing tomato visit =>

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Eggshells The Secret To Great Tomatoes

If you are a gardener trying to produce the best growing tomatoes possible, you have probably come across many different ideas along the way. Have you ever wondered if using eggshells will help you have a healthier tomato plant? Crushed egg shells are an exceptional way to add calcium and nutrients to the soil.

An eggshell contains about 95% calcium carbonate. The remaining 5% is comprised of calcium phosphate, magnesium carbonate, and proteins. Because tomato plants have a tendency towards blossom-end rot, increasing the calcium level in the soil can help the plant avoid that disease.

As an added bonus, eggshells help deter cats from the garden as the shells irritate their paws. Slugs, cutworms, and snails will also be discouraged from bothering your garden due to the sharpness of the eggshell pieces.

The following techniques will show you how to use eggshells for healthier tomato plants and have the best growing tomatoes you can:

1) Put a handful of crushed eggshells at the bottom of your planting hole

2) Or you can use crumbled eggshells in the soil as you till it

Many gardeners boil the eggshells and then use a rolling pin to crush them. If you prefer a fine powder, you can grind them in your blender. Boiling should remove any bacteria. The mucous membrane can be removed or not. If the membrane is left on, it will provide extra nutrients for the plants and worms.

Other gardeners do not bother with boiling the eggshells – they simply rinse them well with warm water and remove the membrane inside the shell. Some people feel that leaving the membrane on will attract pests. When the eggshells are dry, you can put them in a plastic baggie, crush them with a rolling pin & then store them in the freezer until you are ready to add to your garden.

If you have a compost pile, you can forgo the boiling process and just leave them in the compost pile for a few months. The rain and other influences from the compost pile simmering for a few months is all the cleaning that is needed. You can then make tea with the crushed eggshells and use this to water the soil around the plant.

These are a just a few ideas on how to use eggshells for having healthier tomato plants. By providing this extra calcium to the soil, growing tomatoes can be a more pleasurable and rewarding gardening experience!

Deb R. is an avid gardener with a special interest in growing tomato plants. Are you trying to grow the best juicy and tasty tomato possible, and avoid disease, pests, and soil problems? Best Growing Tomatoes []. Check out this fantastic guide on how to grow fabulous tomatoes right now! []

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Growing Tomatoes From Seeds – The Truth

Before you grow tomatoes, you have to decide how you will go about doing things. Will you use seeds, or will you be utilizing a harder method… growing tomatoes from tomatoes? The latter might seem more convenient, especially if you already have tomatoes in the refrigerator. However, if your tomatoes were grown from commercial farming procedures (over organic ones), they are probably hybridized. This means that their seeds are probably sterile. For this reason, if you want to start growing tomatoes from other tomatoes, consider starting things off the old-fashioned way… using seeds to jumpstart the process. Then once they start sprouting tomatoes, you will have the power to grow new sets of plants.

To grow tomatoes from seeds, you must first think about when you will start planting. You should do this 6 to 8 weeks before it starts getting cold in your area. If the temperatures go below the mid-50s, you might have trouble growing your plants. For the growing itself, there are many containers you can use. The cheapest are the plastic ones that you find at most garden shops. They are not fancy, but they are very easy to use for beginners. However, they are not miracle-workers, so if the soil within the container is not sterile, your plants may encounter disease. With that said, stick to “soilless” mediums as they do the same thing without exposing your plants to harmful organisms.

After you have prepared your trays, you are ready to plant your seeds. With a pencil, punch one hole into the soil. Drop 2 or 3 seeds into this hole. Only one seed is needed for germination, but the more you put down, the greater your chances of success. Just do not surpass 2 or 3 seeds, as the area may not be big enough to accommodate the growth. In any case, after you have laid your seeds, apply a thin layer of top soil then water the area. The soil should be moistened but not over-watered and soaked. Repeat this procedure with every cup in the tray. Now you need to put your seedlings into a warm area, somewhere around 70 degrees. If the area fits that requirement, place the seeds near a window sill. Make sure the window receives enough light, as sunlight is especially vital during the beginning stages of a tomato plant’s life. For watering, do as you did before… moisten the soil, but do not soak it. And only water when the soil appears dry.

When it gets closer to planting time, your plants will go through a unique “hardening off” period. This is nature’s way of helping them build defenses against the elements. To get the most out of this process, start putting your plants outside for hour. Increase this timeframe by one hour each day and continue doing this until you have reached 4 hours. By doing this, your plants will become healthier and stronger.

Once your plants start growing tomatoes, you will have a harvest that you can eat, sell or save for future plants. If you decide to save your tomatoes for future plants, you will have to extract their seeds. You will also have to dry them out, (as wet seeds will not fertilize). Afterward, just repeat the steps mentioned above. Since the seeds would have originated from a non-hybridized plant, you should be able to grow them pretty easily. And do not worry about pollination, as tomatoes are one of the few plants that can pollinate themselves. As long as their seeds are healthy and non-hybridized, they have just as much sprouting ability as the ones you buy from the store. By following this process, starting next season you’ll be able to start growing tomatoes from the tomatoes left over from this summer, assuming you found a variety that you enjoy and that grows well in your area.

Mike Mazzaro has written extensively on tomato gardening. For more information on growing tomatoes from tomatoes, check out

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Best Tomatoe Growing Tips You Need!

How to sow tomato seeds is challenging but also very rewarding. Hopefully the following tomato growing tips will help you to get started the right way. You may obtain your seeds from reputable stores. You may also opt to use heirloom tomato seeds, they are considered as a variety that has been passed down through generations because of its valued characteristics. Whatever variety you choose homegrown tomatoes usually produces succulent fruit crops.

Basically planting tomatoes seeds is done indoors for about 6 to 8 weeks prior to spring frost in your area. Transplanting tomato seedlings outdoors takes another 2 weeks after that.

Here are some tips on growing tomato seeds:

1. The initial step is to grow tomato seeds indoors. Using a flat tray or pot, plant your tomato seeds about 1/4 inches deep using fertile soil mix. Soil mix is usually a combination of peat moss, perlite and sphagnum.

2. Water it consistently keeping soil moist. Dry soil makes the tomato seeds die. You may cover the tray with plastic to conceal moist. Germinate tomato seeds in soil with 75 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you see leaves starting to sprout remove the plastic immediately.

3. Ensure that your tomato seedlings are exposed to sunlight at least 6 – 8 hours every day. If not possible you may use a fluorescent lamp fixture at least a couple of inches away from your growing tomato seedlings. Sufficient supply of sunlight makes your plant grow sturdy. Lack of it will cause them to grow leggy. Another way to help your plant grow sturdy is to lightly brush the plants with your hands twice a day.

4. When leaves begun to grow before it becomes root bound transfer them to a bigger pot to allow root growth and development.

5. When you see potential growth of about 6 leaves you may already transplant your tomato plant outdoors or in a bigger container where you plan to grow tomato plants. Remember to hold only the cotyledon leaves when transplanting and not the stems. The stems are still at their fragile stage.

6. But before transplanting, harden off your tomato plant meaning gradually expose your growing tomato plant to outside temperatures. Harden off your plants by bringing it outside during the day and then bring it back indoors during the night with longer exposure to outdoor temperatures each day until ready for outdoor gardening.

7. Planting tomato plants outside must be done 12-24 inches apart for the determinate variety and 30-36 inches apart for the indeterminate varieties.

8. Plant your growing tomatoes deeply to allow root expansion and growth. This will aid in building strong foundation for your growing tomato plant. Make sure that when adding soil to your plant it is evenly spread around the stem. Press the compost soil lightly to ensure contact of roots and soil. Sprinkle with water immediately.

9. Consistently water and ensure sunlight exposure to your tomato plants. Lack of sunlight will result to bent stems and is prone to blossom end rot and bacterial contamination.

10. Prune excess leaves to eliminate pests and other bacteria. Cutting some of the leaves will allow sunlight penetration to your tomato plant up to its soil. However do not excessively cut off leaves for they are the source of photosynthesis which is the source of the sweet flavor of your tomatoes.

11. Staking is also helpful to avoid blossom end rot to your tomatoes.

Planting tomato seeds with this few simple tomato growing tips can help you gain ample and luscious fruit crops during the harvest. When you plan on gardening again try tomato seeds in preparation for your next tomato planting.

Lisa Lovelock is a tomato growing enthusiast and author (she gained platinum EzineArticles expert status), who enjoys helping others get started in this amazing hobby. If you wish to read more tomato growing tips [] or to get a copy of her Free ‘Growing Tomatoes Secrets’ mini-course then visit her site

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The Best Way To Plant Hanging Upside Down Tomatoes

Have you ever thought about planting tomatoes hanging upside down? Well, do not be surprised, because this is becoming one of the most popular ways of growing tomatoes. The best part about this method is you do not have to worry about weeding and dealing with pests and diseases that are so common when you grow them in the ground. Do you want to know how to plant upside down tomatoes? Well, here is how you can easily do it.

If you are already a tomato grower, you already know most varieties of tomatoes require a large container. Get an empty 5 gallon bucket with a lid. You can save some bucks if you can find it lying around the house or just head over to the nearest hardware store and get one. Once you find your container, you need to clean the bucket thoroughly to remove any debris or harmful chemicals that may exist inside.

Now you need to drill a hole in the middle of the bucket’s bottom. Make sure that it is about 2-3 inches big. You will also need to drill smaller holes in the lid so you can water it easily when the plant is placed inside.

The next thing you will need is material you can use to anchor the tomato plant. Newspaper is ideal for this purpose. Just place several layers at the bottom of the bucket.

Now it is time to add the soil. Fill the bucket to about an inch from the top. Nutrients are essential for the growth of a seedling into a healthy plant, so add some to the soil and secure the lid tightly on the bucket.

Now you have the soil inside the bucket and it is shut with the lid. Simply turn the bucket over and plant the tomato seedling. To do this, just cut a few slits into the newspaper you placed at the bottom. You can access it through the 3 inch hole that you drilled at the bottom of the bucket. Once the slits are done, gently place the seedling into the hole. Make sure about 3 inches of it is coming out of the hole. If you require something extra to anchor the seedling, just use some extra soil.

Now your hanging tomato plant is ready and all you need to do is to hang it at appropriate place. Make sure the structure you use to hang your 5 gallon bucket is strong enough to handle the weight. And remember, tomato plants need space to grow, so they should not be hung too close to the ground. Allow at least 5 feet space between the bucket and the ground to have room for the plant to grow.

While choosing the location, make sure your plants get sufficient sunlight. Plants need adequate lighting to grow and produce fruits. So, having a hanging tomato planter makes it ideal for you to move it with the sun.

Now the only things to care are watering and fertilizing the plants regularly and wait for the blossoms to appear and turn into fruits. Are you ready to eat fresh and ripe tomatoes from your upside hanging tomato plants?

Jimmy Casperson is a tomato growing enthusiast. Visit Growing Tomatoes Secrets for more expert advice on growing tomatoes upside down, and other tips you can use right now to grow more tomatoes in a limited space.

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