Tomatoes grow quickly and cost less money when homemade compost is used as a soil amendment, fertilizer, and mulch. Tomato seeds are free if they are saved year to year from heirloom tomato plants. Heirloom tomatoes are also called heritage tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes are open-pollinated and maintain the same genetic make-up year to year. Tomatoes thrive using "best practices" of organic, sustainable agriculture (find a link to organic farming details in the Resources section). Soil that is microbially active and fertile is the foundation of organic growing practices.
Choose a garden location that receives six to eight hours of sunlight a day. Full sun makes tomatoes grow more quickly. Plant tomatoes near a water supply for easy irrigation.
Use the shovel to turn over the garden soil. The soil should appear dark brown and have a loose, crumbly texture. Good soil is 20 to 30 percent humus, which is decomposed organic matter.
Add compost to the soil to create a loose, porous mixture. Add two shovels full per one square foot. Composted soil retains water more easily and the tomatoes grow more quickly.
Choose tomato plants that are already started. Dig a hole for each of them two times the size of the plant's root ball. Place the tomato plant in the hole and cover it with dirt, packing the dirt down securely.
Place one tomato cage around each planted tomato. Standard or heirloom tomatoes can grow to heights of 5 to 6 feet and sprawl the same width. Tomato cages hold up the branches and prevent fruit from touching the ground and rotting.
Water each plant thoroughly. Check to see that drainage is adequate and does not leave standing water around the plants. Add a 3-inch layer of mulch around each plant to help retain soil moisture.
Add one shovel full of compost as a side dressing when the tomatoes are 3/4 inch in diameter. Feed tomato plants with a half shovel full of compost one time per month of the growing season.