Large ripe tomatoes are welcome additions to almost any sandwich or salad. The tomato is the most popular vegetable grown by home gardeners, according to Purdue University. This plump, juicy favorite is fairly easy to grow and care for in a home garden. If properly cared for, the plants will reward you with an overabundance of tomatoes.
Start tomato seeds indoors in mid-April. Choose a high quality light-weight potting soil for seeds. Place seeds 1/2 inch deep and at least 3 inches apart, giving them room to root properly. Keep the seedling indoors until the threat of frost is over for the year.
Transplant the tomatoes in a slightly acidic soil with good drainage. According to Purdue University, a loamy soil with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8 works best. Soil sample kits are available online and in some garden stores. These kits are used to test garden soil pH level. Apply 1 pound of compost for each 50 square feet of garden space and work the compost into the soil. Do not use compost high in nitrogen.
Plant the tomatoes in an area that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight a day, and space the plants 2 feet apart. Rows should be at least 4 feet apart. Water young tomato plants thoroughly after planting.
Place an 8-foot pole 2 feet deep in the ground and 4 inches from the new tomato plant. Tie the tomato plant to the pole loosely using a strip of cloth tied in a figure 8, with one loop around the plant and the other loop around the pole.
Water tomatoes often to encourage large fruit. These plants will need at least 1 inch of water every week. Conserve moisture by placing a layer of mulch around the base of tomato plants. This will also lessen competition from weeds that rob the soil of nutrients.