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Tomatoes are heavy feeders and require fertile soil with a pH level between 5.5 and 7.5. Have your soil tested at a commercial lab, or purchase your own testing tool. Based on test results, amend your soil to achieve the proper pH level.  We recommend starting with Veggie Blend soil.

Next, enrich the soil with organic materials to boost the nutrients and remedy overly sandy or clay conditions. After danger of frost and the ground has warmed, spread 2 to 3 inches of aged manure or compost over the garden soil. Mix or till the ground, incorporating the manure or compost, down to a depth of 12 inches. Wait two weeks before planting.

If possible, install black landscape fabric and cut wholes where you want to install plants.  The black fabric will help keep the soil warm something that tomatoes and pepper plants like.  After planting use 2 to 4" of mulch to keep weeds down and help keep the soil moist.

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 will make for a stronger plant.  We also like to put a few crushed egg shells, a pinch of eposm salt and a aspirin ( clacium boost and helps protect from diseases).

Once your tomato plants reach about 3 ft. tall, remove the leaves from the bottom 1 ft. of stem. These are the oldest leaves and they are usually the first leaves to develop fungus problems. Spraying weekly with compost tea also seems to be effective at warding off fungus diseases.

How to make compost tea? 
  • Use zoo poo, fill up 5 gallon bucks half with zoo poo and half with water (hot if possible).
  • Let set outside (in sun) for a couple days
  • Drain off water into a water container or sprayer
  • Apply to root of plants
  • Repeat every 2-4 weeks

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. But go easy on pruning the rest of the plant. You can thin out a few leaves to allow the sun to reach the ripening fruit, but it's the leaves that are photosynthesizing and creating the sugars that give flavor to your tomatoes.

Water deeply and regularly while the plants 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 in. of water per week, but during hot, dry spells, they may need more. If your plants start to look wilted for most of the day, give them a drink.

Once the fruit begins to ripen, you can ease up on watering. Lessening the water will coax the plant into concentrating its sugars, for better flavor. You your judgement. Don't withhold water so much that the plants continually wilt and become stressed or they will drop their blossoms and possibly their fruit.

Why do the bottom of tomatoes turn black and soft?
You are describing Blossom End Rot. This is thought to be caused by insufficient calcium. This calcium deficiency is probably caused by irregular watering and a fluctuation in water levels. Water carries calcium throughout the tomato plant. Without enough water, the calcium, which is being used first for foliage growth, doesn't make its way to the fruits. Other factors may include: too much nitrogen fertilizer, too much salt in the soil, root damage and a soil pH that is too high or too far below the optimum 6.5.

There's no saving the rotting fruits. Remove the affected fruits, make sure the plants are getting at least an inch of water per week, correct any other problems, mulch under the plants and you should see improvement.