Mary Ann's Blog

Tomato Time!

By now you know that I shoot two episodes of the series in my home garden, the Ciao Italia garden which is lovingly cared for by my husband Guy who has maintained the garden since the show’s inception and who has been gardening all his life. He is the head gardener and offers you these tips as you begin to think of all those great tomatoes you planning on getting out of your garden!

Guy’s Top 5 Tomato Tips

1)   Plant in full sun (6 to 8 hours of daylight)and when night temperatures are above 50F and all danger of frost is past

2)   Buy plants with a 2-inch root ball and buy several different varieties: Sweet One Hundred for cherry or Sun Gold, heirloom Brandywine, Black Krim and beefsteak types like Jet Star and Big Boy

3)   Strip the lower leaves off the plant and plant deep in the ground using a bulb planter. Only one inch of the stem below the leaves should be showing out of the ground. Roots will grow from the stem doubling in size and yielding better plants.

4)   Plant 2 ½ to 3 feet apart  in the center of 3 foot wide black plastic  or use 12 inch tomato trays. This keeps weeds away from the plants and adds warmth as well. Use styrofoam tomato collars to prevent cutworms from eating the roots.

5)   Stake the plants in cages to allow them to spread out and be well aerated. Staking keeps the tomatoes off the ground and prevents fungal infection. Use liquid fertilizer when planting and two weeks later.

 More tips from Guy


  1. Nadia Solange's avatar

    Nadia Solange

    Hello Guy -
    I've seen the amazing garden you and Maryanne have. I'm in Southern California where it's very hot and the soil is heavy clay so it needs to be ammended.
    I noticed your San Marzanos ae huge! do you remove the shoots to get bigger fruit? I also noticed that they're staked in a straight line. What is there a reason for this? I'd love to achieve the same results this summer, and any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated!

    Many Thanks-

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