Tomato Gardening 101

Overview

Tomatoes are one of the most popular garden vegetables grown today in America. There are many varieties and types, and they are all categorized as determinate or indeterminate. Determinate tomato plants stop growing at a certain point and begin to concentrate on fruit development, while indeterminate varieties grow continuously and need to be staked or caged for best results. Although there are many recommendations for growing better or larger tomatoes, the basics for growing are all essentially the same.

Step 1

Plant in full sun. They like unobstructed sunlight, so keep from planting them behind buildings, structures and weeds. Ideally, tomatoes need 8 hours of sunlight a day or more, so a good open space that the sun shines down upon all day would be perfect.

Step 2

Consider the soil requirements. Realistically, tomatoes grow in virtually any soil as long as it is watered and fertilized, but soil that is well-drained, contains organic matter and will allow deep root growth, is ideal.

Step 3

Plant your tomatoes in 3- to 4-inch deep holes, approximately 2 to 4 feet apart. Always wait until after the last frost before planting. The farther apart they are, the more room to grow and fruit they'll produce. Saturate the holes first before planting. If you are planting tomatoes with the peat pots attached, make sure the pots are fully covered in dirt.

Step 4

Mulch the soil around the tomatoes to keep the soil moist. Bark, compost and newspaper clippings are all an effective mulch.

Step 5

Pinch off suckers between the stem and the branches. Suckers are new growths that grow at the point where the branches meet the stem. They suck valuable nutrients from the tomato plant that would be better served for growth and tomato production.

Step 6

Fertilize your tomatoes on a regular basis according to package directions. Some fertilizers are time released, and the plants do not need to be fertilized as often, while some types are organic and break down quicker, which means fertilizing more often. A standard fertilizer for tomatoes is 10-20-10.

Step 7

Water consistently and always keep the soil moist. Break up the soil around the tomato plants on a regular basis to get the water in deep to the roots.

Step 8

Stake or cage your tomato plants for the best harvest and to take the load of tomatoes off the plant. Even determinate plants benefit by being staked or caged, since the weight of the tomatoes can break limbs and branches if they are just allowed to hang without any support.

Things You'll Need

  • Mulch
  • 10-20-10 fertilizer
  • Stakes or cages

References

  • How To Grow Tomatoe: Growing Tomatoes
  • Growing Tomatoes: Growing Tomatoes Info
  • Blog Her: Gardening 101-Planting Tomatoes
  • Planet Natural: Organic Tomato Gardening

Who Can Help

  • Tomato-Cages: Tomato History
Keywords: tomatoes, determinate tomato plants, indeterminate varieties, staked or caged, mulch the soil, fertilize tomatoes

About this Author

Dale Y the Maintenance Guy, has been involved with do-it-yourself projects, household and auto maintenance, property management and worked as a consultant with home and industries, while running a successful home repair business for more than 25 years. His written work has appeared in the "Lacrosse Tribune," "Women's Day," "New Home Journal," and on many DIY websites across the Internet.