The Fastest Way to Grow Tomatoes at Home

Overview

Almost everyone likes tomatoes. Whether you favor salads or hamburgers with a big, thick tomato slice to add juiciness to the meat, homegrown tomatoes are better-tasting than store-bought varieties and are quite easy to grow. Large varieties such as "beefsteak" types of tomatoes take longer to ripen than smaller varieties such as cherry and plum tomatoes, so if you can't wait to sink your teeth into your own homegrown tomatoes, start with a smaller-fruiting type of tomato.

Step 1

Plant the starter plants. The larger the plant, the sooner you will harvest tomatoes. Look for tomato plants in 1-gallon containers, and favor those with flowers. Cherry tomatoes may be small, but they will develop and ripen more quickly than many larger varieties. Also, look for "early" varieties, such as Early Girl, which will produce tomatoes within 60 days of planting.

Step 2

Apply plenty of compost and other organic materials to enrich your soil. For every square yard of garden space, dig in at least one full gallon bucket of any type of compost. If you include well-rotted manure, such as steer manure, your soil will have the richness and nutrients that tomatoes need to grow fast and strong.

Step 3

Place your tomato plants in an area that gets at least eight hours of direct sunlight each day, according to Texas A&M University. Also, wait until your spring weather warms up a bit before you set your plants in the ground. Tomatoes don't begin to set fruit until nighttime temperatures are regularly above 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 4

Fertilize your tomato plants with a balanced fertilizer before they begin to set blossoms. Follow label instructions for correct application and timing. After blossoms form, switch to a low-nitrogen, or "blossom booster," fertilizer to encourage the development of fruit and not that of foliage, which can slow fruit formation.

Things You'll Need

  • Starter plants
  • Compost
  • Shovel

References

  • Container Gardening for You: How to Grow Tomatoes
  • Burpee: Tomato Early Girl Hybrid
  • Green Nature: Growing Tomatoes: Fast Facts
  • Texas A&M University: Tomato, Part 1
Keywords: tomato plants, vegetables growing, early girl

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.