How to Grow Tomatoes Outside

Overview

Tomatoes require rich soil with good drainage and a sunny area for ripening fruit. Although you can start tomatoes by planting seeds indoors, using transplants from the nursery shortens the time between planting and harvesting. The sweet taste of a vine-ripened tomato straight from your garden beats anything you could buy at the grocery store.

Step 1

Plant the tomatoes in an area that receives six to eight hours of sunlight each day. Till the soil to a depth of 12 inches, using a rototiller or shovel. Remove any rocks or other debris and break up large clumps of soil. Mix in 1 to 2 inches of composted material or add a standard fertilizer according to package directions, using a rake.

Step 2

Plant the tomato plants to a depth just slightly below the two bottom leaves. Roots grow from tomato stems and deep planting produces a healthy root system. Space the tomato plants 1 to 2 feet apart. Place a garden stake at least 1 foot into the ground beside each tomato plant to avoid damaging the root system later. Use soft cloth strips to tie the tomato plants loosely to the stake, leaving room for stem growth.

Step 3

Water the tomato plants to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Continue watering on a daily basis until the plants become established in the garden. Water every three or four days afterward to maintain proper moisture levels in the soil.

Step 4

Mulch between the tomato plants to keep the weeds down. Weed around the plants when necessary, using shallow cultivation methods to avoid injuring the plants.

Step 5

Remove any suckers that may form between branches of the tomato plants. Prune off the bottom three to four sets of leaves to keep fungus from forming on the lower leaves during the growing season.

Step 6

Harvest the fruit as soon as it ripens to keep the plant producing. Remove any green tomatoes from the vine before the first frost hits. Store the unripened tomatoes in a paper bag in a cool place until they are ripe.

Tips and Warnings

  • Uneven watering routines result in blossom end rot and fruit splitting. A regular watering schedule will avoid these problems.

Things You'll Need

  • Rototiller or shovel
  • Rake
  • Standard fertilizer
  • Garden stakes
  • Soft cloth strips
  • Pruning shears or sharp knife

References

  • North Carolina State University: Growing Tomatoes for Home Use
  • University of Illinois: Tomato
  • Ohio State University: Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden
Keywords: growing tomatoes outside, growing tomatoes, grow tomatoes outside

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.