How to Grow Tomatoes in a Back Yard

Overview

Store bought tomatoes can not compare to the sweet taste of a ripe tomato from the home garden. The ease of planting and care make the tomato one fruit every gardener can grow in the back yard. According to Ohio State University, tomatoes are high in vitamin C and low in calories and one plant produces 8 to 10 lbs. of fruit or more.

Step 1

Locate the garden site where the tomato plants are exposed to eight to 10 hours of sunlight each day. Test the soil with a soil test kit to determine the pH level. Tomatoes prefer a pH level between 6.2 and 6.8, according to Ohio State University. Raise the pH level by adding lime or use powdered sulfur to lower the pH level.

Step 2

Till the soil to a depth of 8 to 12 inches, working in any organic matter desired for proper drainage. Remove rocks, twig, and other unwanted debris from the planting site. Break up large clumps of soil and rake the area to a smooth surface for planting.

Step 3

Dig a hole for the tomato plants to a depth equal to the bottom of the growing pot to the bottom of the lowest set of leaves. According to Larry Bass, horticultural specialist for North Carolina State University, if the tomatoes are grown in peat moss, make certain the root ball is at least an inch below the soil surface.

Step 4

Space the tomato plants 1.5 to 2 feet apart in rows and make the rows at least 3 feet apart. Place tomato cages or garden stakes around the tomato plant when it is planted to keep from disturbing the plant as it grows. Water the plants to a depth of 6 to 8 inches on a weekly basis.

Step 5

Remove any suckers or prune an unwanted leaves and branches prior to the tomato plant setting fruit. Do not prune after fruit starts forming as this may subject the fruit to sun spots, according to Cornell University.

Step 6

Harvest the tomatoes as soon as the fruit ripens on the vine to ensure the tomato plant keeps producing throughout the growing season.

Tips and Warnings

  • Remove spent tomato plants once the growing season is over. Do not plant tomatoes in the same location the next year to avoid nutrient deficiencies in the new plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Quality tomato plants
  • Soil test kit
  • Organic matter or compost
  • Lime (optional)
  • Sulfur (optional)
  • Rototiller or shovel
  • Garden rake
  • Tomato cages or stakes
  • Mulch (leaves, straw, etc.)

References

  • Ohio State University: Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden
  • North Carolina State University: Growing Tomatoes for Home Use
  • Cornell University: 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Growing Tomatoes
Keywords: growing tomatoes, grow backyard tomatoes, home grown tomatoes

About this Author

Julie Richards is a freelance writer from Ohio. She has been writing poetry and short stories for 30 years. Recently, Richards has written a variety of e-books and numerous articles on gardening, small business, and farming. She is currently enrolled at Kent State University completing her bachelor's degree in English.