Tomatoes are a popular garden plant grown for fresh eating and cooking purposes. There are hundreds of new and heirloom varieties available that offer a wide range of colors, sizes and flavors. Tomato plants require a high nutrient soil that is well draining and in full sun conditions. Plant tomatoes so they are spaced at least 2 feet apart to provide proper air circulation to prevent disease. Tomato plants grow well in both a garden and container setting.
Harden off tomato seedlings for two weeks prior to planting in a garden by gradually introducing them to the outdoor climate. Place the seedlings outdoors for several hours for 1 to 2 days. Gradually increase the time outdoors every other day until the seedlings are outdoors all day and night.
Dig a deep hole to plant the tomato seedlings in. Place the plant 1 to 2 inches below the pot soil level to stimulate strong and deep root growth on the plants.
Water tomato plants a minimum of two times a week. Soak the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Do not let the soil dry out completely between watering as this will stimulate blossom rot in the plants. Water the plants more frequently during the hot summer months making sure to always provide a deep watering.
Place mulch around the tomato plants by applying a layer of straw, grass or plastic sheeting. This will assist with moisture retention and prevent weed growth around the plants.
Fertilize tomato plants every two weeks once the plants are growing outdoors. Apply a balanced fertilizer for the first several applications and switch to a high phosphorus fertilizer to promote blossom and fruit growth.
Prune suckers off of tomato plants once the first set of blossoms appear. Pinch to remove the sucker growth which appears at the branch joints through out the tomato plant. This will promote fruit growth instead of new branch growth.
Support tomato plants by placing a cage around them or training the plants on a trellis. This will prevent the branches from breaking due to weather conditions or heavy fruit.