How can we get tomatoes on our plants instead of all leaves?
Q. We have planted our tomatoes and now we are getting big leafy plants and very few tomatoes. The crotch shoots have been removed and the plants are a healthy green, but there are few blossoms or fruit. The plants are on an automatic watering system and fertilizer has been added.
How can we get tomatoes instead of big leafy plants?
A. There are several reasons why your tomato plants may not be producing fruit. Since the plants are healthy, leafy, and green, and it appears that you don't have many blossoms, the most likely culprit is too much fertilizer or your fertilizer composition.
Check your fertilizer product composition. Look for a 3-digit number. Those digits represent the product's nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium respectively, also known as the "N-P-K ratio." Nitrogen, represented by the first number, promotes leaf growth; phosphorus and potassium, represented by the next two numbers, promote blossoming and fruiting. If the first digit of your fertilizer is higher than the other two, then it has a higher nitrogen content than that of other nutrients, and that product is not the best for tomatoes. (High nitrogen fertilizers work well for lawns as nitrogen promotes foliage.) Choose instead a balanced fertilizer, or even one formulated specifically for tomato blossoming and fruiting, such as
Miracle Gro Tomatoes and Espoma Tomato Tone.
Even if you have chosen an appropriate fertilizer, consider your application schedule. Add fertilizer at planting time, but then wait to feed again until plants have developed golf-ball sized fruit. Over-fertilizing can stimulate excessive leaf growth during the blossoming stage.
Additional explanations for beautiful leaves and no fruit can include:
- Excessive temperatures and humidity - either too cold or too hot - which can prevent blossoming or cause blossom drop
- Lack of sunlight. Tomatoes need a minimum of 6-8 hours of direct sun per day.
- Inconsistent watering
Finally, check the tomato variety. While some plants produce early in the season (49-60 days from the point you set them in the garden), other varieties are long season (90-100 days) and simply take longer to blossom and fruit.
Good luck and happy gardening!Your friends at Tomato Dirt