Growing tomatoes is often the impetus for starting a vegetable garden and every tomato lover dreams of growing the ultimate tomato firm but juicy, sweet but tangy, aromatic, and blemish free The trick to growing great-tasting tomatoes is to choose the best varieties start the plants off right, and control problems before they happen. Start here with some time-tested tomato growing tips. Don’t Crowd Tomato Seedlings . If you are starting tomatoes from seed, give the seedlings plenty of room to branch out. That means thinning the seedlings to one strong plant per cell or small pot. Crowded conditions inhibit their growth, which stresses them and leads to disease later on. Transplant tomato seedlings into their own 4-inch pots shortly after they get their first set of true leaves. Provide Lots of Light Tomato seedlings need strong, direct light. Days are short during winter, placing them near a sunny window may not provide them with sufficient natural light. best option is to use some type of artificial plant lighting for 14 to 18 hours every day. Turn a Fan On. Tomato plants need to move and sway in the breeze to develop strong stems. That happens naturally outdoors, but if you start your seedlings inside, you need to provide some type of air circulation. Create a breeze by turning a fan on them for five to 10 minutes, twice a day. That small amount of time will make a big difference. Preheat the Garden Soil. Tomatoes love heat They won’t really start to grow until both the soil and air temperatures remain warm. You can speed things up in the soil by covering the planting area with black or red plastic a couple of weeks before you intend to plant. Those extra degrees of soil warmth will translate into earlier tomatoes. Bury the Stems Plant your tomato plants deeper than they come in the pot, all the way up to the top few leaves. When planted this way, tomatoes are able to develop roots all along their stems. And more roots make for a stronger plant. Mulch Tomatoes After the Soil Has Warmed If you are not going to leave plastic on the soil, hold off on putting down mulch until after the ground has had a chance to warm up. Although mulching conserves water and prevents the soil and soilborne diseases from splashing up on the plants, if you put it down too early, it will also shade and cool the soil. Because tomatoes love heat, allow the sun to warm the soil in the spring. After temperatures remain warm, both during the day and at night, you can add a layer of mulch to retain moisture. Remove the Bottom Leaves After your tomato plants reach about 3 feet tall, remove the leaves from the bottom foot of the stem. These are the oldest leaves, and they are usually the first leaves to develop fungus problems. As the plants fill out, the bottom leaves get the least amount of sun and airflow. Because these leaves sit close to the ground, soilborne pathogens can easily splash up onto them. Removing them helps prevent fungal diseases. Pinch and Prune for More Tomatoes Pinch and remove suckers that develop in the crotch joint of two branches. They won’t bear fruit and will take energy away from the rest of the plant. Water Regularly Water deeply and regularly while the fruits are developing. Irregular watering missing a week and trying to make up for it leads to blossom end rot and cracking. The rule of thumb is to ensure your plants get at least 1 inch of water per week, but during hot, they may need more. If your plants start to look wilted for most of the day, give them a drink. Getting Your Tomato Plants to Set Tomatoes Tomatoes’ ripening is pretty much at the mercy of the weather, but sometimes we can help things along. Pinching off the tips of the main stems in early summer will encourage indeterminate tomatoes to start putting their energy into flowering.