By Montana Grant

Posted: May 14, 2023

We used to call Tomatoes “Maters” back in the day. Summer tomatoes are tasty and a wonderful garden crop. These plants come in a variety of types, sizes, colors, and textures. Each variety has its fans and unique qualities.

If you did your garden prep, it is time to plant your tomatoes now. I dispersed 2 big mulch bins of kitchen waste a few weeks ago. The temperatures have been above freezing and conditions are getting ripe for Montana’s short growing season.

Here are some tomato tips to help your growing!

Egg on your plants.    Add several eggshells into the bottom of the hole. They produce potassium which is a tomato favorite. Good mulch that has shells and banana skins in them works well also.

Go Deep!    Plant over half of your plant under dirt. You can also lay the plant on its side to create a bigger root base. Gently fold the above ground plant upwards. If a plant breaks, simply plant it in the dirt. Each fuzzy hair on the plant is a potential root. Just water appropriately.

Have some Funnel!   Place a bottomless plastic bottle alongside the plant. Drop a rock into the neck to slow the flow. Fill with water for a slow drip where its needed.

                Good JOBE’S    Jobe fertilizer sticks really help. Shove one or two sticks near the plant. I have found that I get better tomatoes without blemishes or diseases.

Get Cagey!     Place a tomato cage around your plants to support and protect the fruit and plants. You can buy them commercially or make your own from turkey wire.

Fun in the SUN!    Tomatoes love the sun. Plant them so they track the Suns all day. This means an east to west track. Water the plants every day.

Deal With the SUCKERS!    Use scissors to remove the small in between branches called suckers. This keeps the plants focusing on primary fruit.

Don’t be Too Cool!    Use Walls of Water protectors early in the season to prevent frost damage. If you see frost predictions, cover the plants. A breathable sheet will do. You can also use bottomless milk jugs.

Shake it but don’t Break It!    As the flowers begin to form on your tomatoes, give the tomato cages/ plants a shake to distribute pollen. This will up your yield.

Every garden has its own unique soil, light, hazards, and pluses. Adapt your garden to your area. Plant faster growing tomatoes that may be smaller. Cherry tomatoes certainly fit the bill. Celebrity tomatoes are smaller and sweeter. They also have more yield. One of my favorite Montana Tomatoes is called “Stupice”. This plant is from Czechoslovakia and does well here in Big Sky Country. Select some new varieties and colors for your harvest.

There are plenty of things to do with tomatoes. A tomato sandwich on mayo and bread with just salt and pepper is tasty, good. Try making your own pasta sauce, salsa, or pizza sauce. They all freeze or can easily.

Enjoy growing your own and celebrate with a Tomato Bonanza!

Montana Grant

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