DENVER — First, wait until it's warm enough. Too many people jumped the gun and set out their tomatoes too early. Night temperatures must remain reliably at 50 degrees or above before they can be planted. The soil must also be warm. Right now it's cold and wet.
Crops of tropical origin--tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers--thrive in the heat. It's foolish to plant them too early. Many people are having a do-over after their tomatoes froze last week.
Second, choose a sunny location. Don't use the same position as you did last year. This invites disease. Rotate crops to keep them healthy. Each kind of vegetable uses different amounts of essential elements in the soil. They will deplete these if planted in the same place year after year. Add compost to the beds yearly to enrich the soil.
Third, dig a generous hole. The tomato needs to be planted much deeper than it's growing in its pot. Strip the leaves off the bottom part of the stem. The buried stem will form new roots along it. This makes for a much more vigorous plant.
Fourth, form a "moat" around the plant to catch rainwater. Tomatoes need to be kept moist but not soggy.
Fifth, provide a strong support. A full-grown plant is heavy. Even normal tomato cages may need to be reinforced with iron stakes.
Sixth, use a fertilizer formulated for tomatoes. They don't need a lot of nitrogen. Too much will result in tremendous growth but few tomatoes.
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