Growing fresh tomatoes in your own garden can be as simple as putting a single plant in the ground and picking the fruits when they are ripe. There is more to it than that, however, when you want to plant tomato plants for a family for fresh eating as well as freezing and canning for storage and use through the winter months. To do so, you'll want to make sure you have a lot of garden space available for your tomato plants.
Plan to purchase or start from seed the right number of tomato plants to suit the size of your family. As a general guideline, you will want to grow one to four plants per family member of cherry/miniature types, three to six plants per household member of cooking tomatoes and one to four per family member for slicing tomatoes.
Determine the kinds of tomatoes you and your family want to grow by type (miniature, cooking or slicing) and then pick your favorite varieties from each type. Be sure to mix up your tomato varieties by planting both early and late varieties to ensure you have a good harvest starting quickly as well as lasting all season.
Dig your garden bed 10 to 12 inches deep and break apart large clumps as you turn the soil, moving the lower soil to the top. Add a blanket of compost or garden soil over the bed and run a garden tiller over the area to further break apart and mix the soil layers.
Plant your tomatoes by stripping lower leaves and putting 80 percent of your seedling under the soil, leaving only the top 20 percent exposed. Be sure to space your tomatoes two feet apart with rows spaced three to four feet apart.
Set a tomato cage or place a stake at each tomato to help support it vertically as it grows. Water the seedlings regularly to keep the soil moist without letting extremes of dry or waterlogged soil occur or the tomatoes may split or become diseased. An inch of water a week is recommended.
Apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer to the soil as often as the packaging recommends around each plant from the time you plant it to when you start to see tomatoes forming. Treat your plants for pests as needed and with a commercial or organic pesticide following the product directions.