Eating tomatoes from the supermarket is often a letdown, what with the wimpy and tasteless flesh. Eating a juicy, homegrown tomato is a different experience altogether. Growing your own tomatoes also extends the varieties available to you. Not all tomatoes are red; there are green, white, pink, striped, and tomatoes with practically neon colors on the inside. To grow the juiciest tomatoes, there are a few simple planting rules to follow.
Prepare your soil by tilling in 3 to 4 inches of organic material into the soil to improve drainage. Tomatoes prefer a deep and loamy soil that is rich in organic material and has a pH between 6.2 and 6.8. Test your soil with a soil pH kit from a garden center and adjust the pH according to the results.
Apply 2 to 3 lbs. of a complete fertilizer such as 5-10-10 to the garden soil per 100 square feet, suggests the University of New Hampshire. Work the fertilizer into the soil with the organic material.
Plant your tomato plant in mid-May, once the chance of frost has passed and the weather is warm enough for the plant to survive. Place dwarf tomato varieties 12 inches apart, staked plants 15 to 24 inches apart, and ground tomato plants 24 to 36 inches apart, says the University of Illinois Extension. Apply a starter fertilizer when planting the tomato plants.
Remove weeds by shallowly digging them out with a hoe, suggests the University of Illinois. This prevents root damage.
Apply an ammonium nitrate fertilizer at 1 lb. per 100 square feet once the tomatoes are the size of golf balls. Make another application at three weeks, then again at six weeks, suggests the University of Illinois Extension.
Place stakes in the soil to train larger tomato plants and keep them from falling over as the plant grows vegetables. Tie the plant loosely using a nylon stocking.