New to growing tomatoes? Learn everything you need to know about how to grow tomatoes in your backyard garden, in a pot, and everything in between. We’ve collected all of our best tips for you to grow fabulous tomatoes that you’ll love!
Growing tomatoes is something that I love, there is nothing like an amazing homegrown tomato! Filled with delicious flavor, and juicy goodness. Every year we grow tons and then spend hours canning them in delicious sauces or dishes. For me, growing tomatoes are filled with memories of gardening with my grandmother, but also long wonderful summers and I hope you find as much enjoyment in growing them as I do.
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How To Grow Tomatoes
Whether you are new to gardening, have tried it before, or gardened for years we all have something to learn about gardening. Tomatoes are pretty easy to grow, but there are still some things you can do to set yourself up for success when it comes to how to grow tomatoes.
Tomato Terms & What They Mean
Cherry: Cherry Tomatoes, Grape Tomatoes, Currant Tomatoes, Pear Tomatoes all fall into the cherry classification. These varieties all stay quite small.
Salads/Saladets 2-4 Ounce Fruits: Pastes tomatoes fall into this category. These tomatoes aren’t big enough to be considered a slicer but are more than a single bite.
Slicers (often called beefsteak): These are the really big tomatoes like red and yellow beefsteak.
Determinate, and Indeterminate Tomatoes
These two terms are really important to know when it comes to how to grow tomatoes. Determinate tomato plants (also known as dwarf tomato plants) will only get a certain height (usually a couple of feet) and produce a certain amount of fruit. Some require a stake while others can manage by themselves. These tomatoes usually have a shorter growing season, and when they stop setting flowers they stop producing flowers.
Indeterminate tomatoes will keep growing as long as you provide some sort of support and keep producing all season long. These tomatoes will tend to produce a higher volume of tomatoes.
When To Plant Tomatoes
One of the first things you should know when it comes to how to grow tomatoes is when to plant them. Tomatoes do not like being cold, they don’t hold up well to frosty conditions so you’ll want to plant your tomatoes out in your garden in the spring after your last chance of frost has passed. Tomatoes grow best when the temperature is between 65-85 degrees.
Starting Tomatoes From Seeds
Wanting to take the dive into starting your garden from seeds, and wondering how to grow tomatoes from seeds? Start your tomato seeds in pots 4-8 weeks before your last frost date. Press the seed of the seed into your prepared pots so that it is about as deep as the size of the seed. Gently cover with soil. Keep the pots moist and warm until the seeds sprout. Make sure you keep them where they can get lots of sunlight, a greenhouse will work wonders, or you can use a bright window.
Some of our favorite places to get tomato seeds and some that have great varieties:
- Baker Creek Seeds
- Park Seed
- Wild Boar Farm
- Seeds For Generations
- Seed Saver Exchange
- Seeds Of Change
- Seeds Now
- Botanical Interests
- Ferry-Morse Gardening
- Burpee Seeds
Need to transplant your tomatoes into a bigger pot? We made a video to show you how we transplant our tomatoes for a strong root system.
Preparing The Soil For Tomatoes
The next step in how to grow tomatoes is properly preparing where you are growing them.
- Tomatoes need lots of sunshine, so select a spot that gets the most sun in your yard.
- Next up decide if you are going to till the soil, or go with a no-dig method. You can read more about different ways to prepare a garden bed for planting in this article.
- Remove any weeds or grass from your garden bed.
- Before planting make sure you dig in a good layer of compost or manure into the soil.
- Depending on how good your soil is, you may want to do a soil test before planting your tomatoes.
How To Plant Tomatoes
One of the most important things to know when it comes to how to grow tomatoes is how to plant them. Tomatoes like to be planted deep. We like to plant ours as deep as we can, so we dig a hole big enough for the whole plant including the stem up to several inches below the neck of the plant where the leaves are. Gently crack an egg and sit it at the bottom of the hole, then insert your tomato plant and cover with soil.
Tomatoes can root wherever their stems touch the ground, so planting them deep helps them to develop a really strong root structure.
How To Trellis, Stake or Cage Tomatoes
The next thing you need to know when it comes to how to grow tomatoes is support, you can use all kinds of things depending on if your tomatoes are indeterminate, or determinate including:
- Tomato Cages (if you use this method make sure you anchor them with a stake so when your tomatoes come in they don’t pull over the cage)
- Cattle Panels (we have a video on how to do this below)
- Tomato Trellis
If you are growing indeterminate tomato varieties you are going to need more then a simple stake or even a tomato cage to support their weight.
Tips For How To Grow Tomatoes
Some of our best tips for how to grow tomatoes:
- When temperatures reach over 95F tomatoes will stop growing.
- If nighttime temperatures are over 85F tomatoes will not turn red.
- The number on the back of your seed packet is referring to the amount of time between your tomato producing fruit and you putting the seedling in the ground.
- Pruning is really important, especially if you live in a hot muggy climate.
- Tomatoes do not have to be watered every day once established.
- Avoid getting the leaves of your tomato plants wet. Water just at the base of the stem or use a soaker hose to water.
- Molasses makes a terrific fertilizer for tomatoes.
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