How to Grow Tomatoes

Overview

According to the University of Missouri Extension, the tomato plant is one of America's most popular garden plants. Tomatoes grow well in most home gardens or as container plants on a patio, due to their low maintenance and high fruit yields. Plant the tomato in an outdoor garden once the soil reaches a temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the area receives full sunlight and protection from wind to produce higher fruit yields and limit plant damage.

Step 1

Prepare the garden two weeks prior to planting by testing the soil pH in the garden area to verify it is in the appropriate range--6.2 to 6.5. Add ground rock sulfur to lower the pH number according to the package instructions for the square feet of space. Add limestone to increase the pH number if needed.

Step 2

Work 1 lb. of composted manure for each 1 foot of garden area at the same time adding pH amendments. Work the amendments into the soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. Apply 1/2 inch of water to the soil and let it rest two weeks.

Step 3

Dig planting holes that are deep enough so the first set of leaves is just above ground level. Loosen the tomato root ball and set it into the hole. Cover the root ball and stem with soil and tamp to hold in place.

Step 4

Apply a 10-20-10 tomato fertilizer to the soil around the plants once they have reached their mature size. Leave a 2-to-3-inch gap between the stem and fertilizer. Apply 1/2 inch water to the soil to assist with absorption.

Step 5

Apply a 1-to-2-inch layer of mulch around the tomato plants or install plastic mulch sheeting. This will prevent weed growth and assist with soil moisture retention.

Step 6

Provide supplemental water to tomato plants to keep the soil evenly moist during the summer growing months. Water the soil two to three times a week by soaking the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches when the weekly rainfall amount is less than 1 inch.

Step 7

Pinch off sucker growth that appears in the branch crotches below the first blossom branch of the plant. This will prevent the plant from growing leggy with branches and will increase fruit production.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil pH test
  • Ground rock sulfur
  • Limestone
  • Composted manure
  • Tiller
  • Shovel
  • 10-20-10 fertilizer
  • Mulch

References

  • University of Illinois: Tomato
  • University of Missouri Extension: Growing Home Garden Tomatoes
  • North Carolina State University: Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden
Keywords: grow tomatoes plants, plant tomatoes, grow garden tomatoes

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.