Loaded with Vitamin C and rich with antioxidants, tomatoes (Lycopersicon spp.) are a favorite for vegetable gardeners, despite the plant's scientific categorization as a fruit. Tomato plants are relatively easy to grow, and are an excellent choice for the amateur gardener.
Ideally, tomato plants should be put in the ground when nighttime temperatures begin to reach around 50 to 55 degrees. Give tomato plants ample room to grow--keep plants 2 to 3 feet apart. Keep gardening stakes on hand for when the plant starts producing fruits, and tie up the plants once they seem to be in danger of toppling over from the weight of fresh foliage and fruits.
Tomatoes aren't picky about soil and will grow in just about any environment, provided they have plenty of sunlight. Tomatoes will usually grow well in containers and hanging planters, although they are less likely to live for long in hanging containers that don't have room for their roots to spread. Be sure to water tomato plants deeply and evenly on a regular basis to prevent cracks in the fruit and leaf wilting.
Tomatoes should be harvested once their color has deepened and they are just beginning to soften (but barely). Store them in a warm, dark area such as a clean pantry or corner shelf. Avoid putting tomatoes in the fridge, as they immediately begin to lose flavor in low temperatures. The flavor of vine-ripened tomatoes will decline within three days, so eat the fruits before they go bad.