The Dallas Morning News

Tips for growing top tomatoes

- Jeff Rugg, Creators Syndicate

Q: Last year, my tomatoes were tasteless, and they took forever to ripen on the vine. Some of them just stayed pinkish-green, and others were only ripe part of the way through. What can I do to have better tomatoes this year?

A: I had several reports of dry or tasteless tomatoes last year. This is generally the result of weather extremes. Weather that is too cold (below 60 F) or too warm (above 90 F), or soil that is too dry, waterlogge­d, compact, has too much nitrogen and not enough potassium, or has too much shade will all cause tomatoes to develop poorly. Wow, with a list like that, it is a wonder that we ever get goodtastin­g tomatoes.

Since most tomato problems are not related to insects and diseases, spraying them with pesticides will not cure the problems. Look at the list and then look at your garden’s location. Is there a soil or drainage problem you can correct before planting in the garden this year? If the location is too hot, can you install a trellis to grow a vine crop, like cucumbers, peas, beans or morning glories?

Be sure to move all of your crops around each year. Do not plant the same thing in the same place because insect and disease problems can build up in the soil. It is best to not even plant crops from the same family in the same location. Tomatoes, potatoes and peppers should not go in the location of one of the other plants. The same thing goes for all of the vine crops.

If your tomatoes had brown interiors, you may have had a disease problem. Fruit that turns brown inside may have tobacco mosaic virus. This spring, move the tomatoes to a new spot in the garden. Get tobacco-mosaic-virus-resistant varieties, and watch the soil and fertilizer.

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Eli_asenova/getty Images

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