Cheap Trick: Stronger Tomato Plants

Cheap Tricks tomato

I’ve used this trick for decades so I know it works. One extra tip: After you’ve pinched off the lower leaves, gently scrape the sides of the stem with a fingernail. It will help to form roots more quickly. If you use rooting powder it’s even better.

Once the tomato is planted, wrap a small piece of foil, no more than an inch high around the base of the plant. It will deter those blasted cutworms from decapitating your tender seedlings during the night.

Below are two pictures of the same plant. What a difference a few weeks make. The seedling (on the left) has been stripped of its lower leaves and I buried the stem about 3 inches from the lowest leaves (where my thumb is), then wrapped the base with a tiny slip of aluminum foil.

tomato in trough     tomato near harvest

Anyone growing tomatoes this year? What’s in your garden?

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  1. i don’t know about tomatoes. I grow them when I’m given them, but I have four very healthy looking Chilli plants grown from seed. My question is. Dr. Greenfingers, why are they now resembling small bushes rather than the small but elegant tree I was hoping for? I suppose I could just butcher its profuse and spindly branches, but they’re all bearing flowers and fruiting hot chillies. Do I go for aesthetics or harvest? First world problems. 🙂

  2. Mike: Mine can get spindly too if I don’t pinch off the tops. As long as there are enough leaves for photosynthesis I let it go and damn the aesthetics. It gives the neighbors something else to talk about. 🙂

  3. Barbara: It’s an ongoing battle. Because of all the rain we’ve had less grasshoppers which is what usually cause us grief.

    Each area has its own set of pests too. For birds, we’d wrap old video tape around the popular plants. It kept them out better than the fake owls or snakes.

    Ants are the hardest to deter. We’ve yet to have a good harvest of corn because of them. I moved the corn this year so we’ll see if that helps.

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