Grow your own tomato plants to have a fresh, healthy supply and save up on expenses at the grocery store. Grow this juicy vegetable outdoors if you have plenty of garden space, or in containers indoors if you live in an apartment or want to get a head start on production. With a little care and maintenance, harvest a bountiful supply of healthy tomatoes and use them for soups, salads or main dishes. Preparing outdoor soil in advance increases the likelihood of tasty homegrown tomatoes.
Start tomato seeds indoors. Fill a seed-starter tray with soil-less potting mix and moisten it with a watering can. Add seeds to the tray and gently cover with potting mix. Cover the tray with a plastic sheet and place it in an area with indirect sunlight, where temperature is between 65 and 70 degrees F. Water frequently to ensure potting mix is moist. The seeds germinate in a week or two.
Transplant the seedlings when each establishes its true set of leaves. You can plant directly in the soil outside, or into larger pots indoors if immediate planting outdoors is not possible due to frost. Fill a 4-inch pot with equal amounts potting soil and sterile compost and plant a seedling in each. Place the pots in a sunny windowsill and water frequently to ensure the soil is moist.
Harden the seedlings before transplanting outdoors to prevent them from going into shock. Place pots containing seedlings outdoors in a shady spot for several hours a day, gradually increasing sunlight exposure over a period of two weeks.
Clear a spot in your backyard from weeds, plant debris and stones in early spring. Make sure it has well-drained soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0 and receives eight hours or more of sunlight daily.
Till the area to a depth of 6 inches to loosen compacted soil. Spread a 2-inch-thick layer of compost over the site, along with fistfuls of phosphorus-high (8-32-16) fertilizer. Rake well to ensure the amendments go deep down.
Make a hole in the soil as deep as the root ball but twice as wide. Carefully remove the tomato seedlings from the pots and lower them in the soil. Tamp the soil down and water gently. Space multiple tomato seedlings at least 24 inches apart.
Inspect the plants frequently and remove any weeds that grow alongside. Spray antibacterial soap solution over the plants to deter any pests. Support growing plants by placing a wooden stake behind them and securing limbs with wire, or placing a tomato cage over them.