Introduction: Get a Bigger, Sweeter, Earlier Crop of Tomatos

Picture of Get a Bigger, Sweeter, Earlier Crop of Tomatos

This is a simple and cheap way to produce a better harvest of any vine type frut bearing plant.

I use this method for my tomatos but it works equally well on other garden plants as well.

Step 1: Increase Your Sunshine and Get Rid of Pests

Picture of Increase Your Sunshine and Get Rid of Pests

First lay down strips of aluminum foil with the shiney side up between your rows of plants and weigh them down (rocks work well) along the edges to reflect sunlight up under the plants and aid in ripening from the bottom to top.

The shine of the foil will also discourage birds from destroying your plants and give an inceased amount of sunshine on overcast days.

Step 2: Sweeten Your Tomatos

Picture of Sweeten Your Tomatos

Second when tomatos begin to appear and are about 1 inch in diameter lightly sprinkle baking soda around each plant to make them sweeter. Repeat this process again when tomatoes are about half grown.

I used a lot of baking soda in his picture so it would show up but about 1/4 cup per plant is plenty.

Note: I have not used this on other plants and have no idea what effect it would have other than with tomatos.

Step 3: Reap the Early Harvest

Picture of Reap the Early Harvest

If your plants become weighed down pick the larger, green ones and place them in a brown paper grocery or lunch bag and store at room temperature to finish ripening.

It is too early for me to pick my tomatos yet so I had to use red ones for the picture instead of green.

Step 4: UPDATE -

Picture of UPDATE -

This tomato was grown in my garden using these instructions.

I wear a small glove and this tomato is a handful, about 10 inches around.

Just a little bigger than a baseball.


beverleyjean (author)2015-10-05

hola..from baja mexico,

I am new to gardening here in the desert....we get plenty of sun here and its rare for us to have over cast days but i have read that baking soda is a way to sweeten the toms. I have one much do you put in the soil? i dont want to over do it.

Gracias for any help


paulchu47 (author)2015-07-06

ampeyro (author)2009-07-02

are you sure it works?, the baking soda increases the ph, and it uses to be bad

DebH57 (author)ampeyro2009-07-30

How does this one look to you? It is almost 10 inches around.

ampeyro (author)DebH572009-08-03

i can't imagine how will these become if i use your system

pchoksatitgul (author)ampeyro2011-06-20

Can you tell me what is that tomato name, thanks. I never eat that type of tomato. But it looks so good.

ampeyro (author)pchoksatitgul2012-07-12

that's probably a unique variant, it came from a neighbour who spent a few decades selecting the biggest ones

DebH57 (author)ampeyro2009-08-03

Oh my! What beauties! Those look delicious I haven't seen tomato's like that since my grandpa grew them. I don't know what type those are but I remember how good they tasted. I would love to grow the yellow kind as well but they don't fare well in my area.

Norsefalconer (author)ampeyro2009-07-23

Here's my 2 cents, for what it's worth. One, aluminum is a naturally occurring element. One shouldn't eat it, but it doesn't bio degrade into the soil readily either -ever dig up a very old aluminum can? Just clean it up and recycle. My guess on the baking soda is that, being a base, it helps neutralize some of the acid in the tomato. It's common practice in my area to use Epsom Salts (home centers stock it in the garden center in season). I think it has the same effect. Thanks for the suggestion though. I'll give it a try next year.

DebH57 (author)Norsefalconer2009-07-23

Norse, as the article states you lay the foil on top of the ground, you don't bury it and when you are done with it recycle the foil, it's only used for reflective purposes to help ripen the tomatoes from beneath. I have tried Epsom Salts in the past and the results aren't quite the same, the tomatos come out sweeter with baking soda.

Norsefalconer (author)DebH572009-07-23

Right, was just using the "bury" scenario to support your process and illustrate that aluminum doesn't bio degrade readily and doesn't (in my opinion) have any negative environmental consequences. Thanks for the update on Epsom vs Soda, I'll give it a try it next year.

DebH57 (author)Norsefalconer2009-07-23

LOL ok thanks, I was tired when I was trying to do replies. You might want to try doing one of each and one with nothing for comparison.

DebH57 (author)ampeyro2009-07-02

Well I've been doing it since I was a kid on the farm and it has never failed me yet.

ampeyro (author)DebH572009-07-05

wow, i will try, but how exactly they become more sweet

DebH57 (author)ampeyro2009-07-05

I don't know the scientifics of it ampeyro. It's something my family has done since forever and it does make a difference, thats all I can tell you.

AmyLuthien (author)2011-10-09

If someone has a problem with alkaline soil, they won't want to sprinkle baking soda around their plants. It will only exacerbate the problem. But other than that really minor detail, nice Instructable!

pchoksatitgul (author)2011-06-20

Thanks :), My better boy tomatoes are too early this year. I have 40s tomatoes but they did not turn red and they look like they push each other badly because their size... I picked eight biggest one to try this process today. :)

Only 68 F, for first day of summer... >.< rain all day and cloudy, feeling like early 60. :((

pchoksatitgul (author)2011-06-20

Thank you so much, this coming weekend I will grab two extra foid rolls :)

Deewheat (author)2009-07-27

Paper bag, my eye! Fried green tomatoes!!!!

jlr5919 (author)Deewheat2010-03-28

most sane thing have read yet

DebH57 (author)Deewheat2009-07-30


hsmomof2 (author)2009-07-22

I didn't know baking soda made them sweeter. I've never grown them, but the fresh from the garden tomatoes taste better than the grocery store tomatoes.

WILL62 (author)hsmomof22010-02-10

WE plant tomatos that don't have to ship and have lovely names like "Delicious" or "Super Sweet" the famers grow tomatos that get thrown into boxes and are trucked 1000 miles so they grow varieties with lovely names like "ROCK HARD" and "SHIPS WELL" not grown for taste but for people who HAVE to have a tomato and will settle for foolin 

bethmez (author)2009-07-31

Hee Hee - I will put the foil around the tomatoes - at the end of the season can use it to line the basket when bringing in the harvest.

DebH57 (author)bethmez2009-07-31

Good idea Beth

TnT101 (author)2009-07-31

I did the aluminum foil part, and I'm sure the deer that ate every freakin tomato AND plants themselves were very grateful. I had 4 plants that were approaching 5ft. and must have had 40+ on the vine with still the same amount of flowers pending more mayters...till Bambi found'em

DebH57 (author)TnT1012009-07-31

Sorry to hear that TnT maybe you missed my I'ble called, Not In My Garden You Don't Deer and other safe forms of pest control - so you could create a Bambi Free Zone.

im4tooele (author)2009-07-22

Those look good!

chauntee2 (author)2009-07-20

Ohhhh can I have one?

juvinurse (author)2009-07-20

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, and is non-toxic. Sounds like a great idea!!

A good name (author)2009-07-09

That's pretty bad for the environment. I'll pass.

DebH57 (author)A good name2009-07-09

Care to explain?

A good name (author)DebH572009-07-09

Tin foil and baking powder? It's not exactly sustainable.

DebH57 (author)A good name2009-07-09

The tin foil is only used to reflect sun you don't put it in the ground and hopefully don't litter afterward. Also its baking soda and in a very small amount - as the article states - I'm not talking about crop dusting with it.

A good name (author)DebH572009-07-12

I suppose that's true... I'm just not one for using fertilizers of any kind that I can't find in my backyard (IE leaves, compost, etc)

phillij (author)2009-07-04

Sounds like a good Idea. Does anybody know how to keep Mockingbirds out of the tomatoes? I have a bumper crop of tomatoes this year and one pesky Mockingbird that loves tomatoes. I'm picking them at the first sight of orange but I'd like to leave them on the vine till their ripe.

DebH57 (author)phillij2009-07-04

Sure I did an insructable on that too.

Check it out here:

Bratillia (author)2009-06-22

Ive never done tomatos but this looks interesting

DebH57 (author)Bratillia2009-06-24

It's very easy Bratillia. Thanks for your comment.

aunty (author)2009-06-23

Very good work. You have done well.

DebH57 (author)aunty2009-06-24

Thank you Aunty

BettyBoop1 (author)2009-06-17

I will pass this on to my husband he is the tomato grower.

DebH57 (author)BettyBoop12009-06-18

Thanks Betty, please let us know what he thinks of it.

treesneedtobehugged (author)2009-06-16

I couldn't really eat them since they weren't ripe and i tried fried green tomatoes but i hate fryed food.

awang8 (author)2009-06-11

Ahem... Baking soda? I thought tomatoes love 6-7pH. Baking soda has high pH, but it sounds interesting enough.

DebH57 (author)awang82009-06-11

All I know is thats the way we have done it since I was a kid and it works.

AmazingGracie (author)DebH572009-06-11

We also use baking soda and all I can say is that it works great!

DebH57 (author)AmazingGracie2009-06-16

Thanks Grace

awang8 (author)AmazingGracie2009-06-16

Erm... OK... *I'll kill you if it kills the plants... Rawr...*

About This Instructable




Bio: I am 51 and hail from sunny Southern California but originate from back east. I am a Web Designer by trade and own a small ... More »
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