How to Cultivate Tomato Plants

Overview

Tomatoes are an abundantly producing summer vegetable. As an annual plant, tomatoes must be replanted each year. The red fruits are used in a variety of ways, from raw tomatoes in salads to canned tomato sauce for pasta and other dishes. Proper cultivation of tomato plants prevents disease and ensures the continued health of the plant throughout the summer and into early fall. This results in healthy fruit and a bountiful harvest that begins in mid-summer and continues to the first frost.

Step 1

Plant tomato seedlings in full-sun garden beds that drain well and aren't prone to standing water. Work in 1 to 2 pounds of 10-10-10 analysis fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed prior to planting.

Step 2

Trim off the lower set of leaves on the tomato seedling before transplanting. Plant the tomato so that the trimmed off area is beneath soil level, as this encourages further root growth and a strong plant.

Step 3

Dissolve 1 tbsp. of 5-10-5 fertilizer in a gallon of water and pour 1 cup of this solution at the base of each plant immediately after planting. Using a starter fertilizer encourages healthy growth and the water collapses air pockets around the roots which aids in water and nutrient uptake.

Step 4

Install a 6-foot-tall stake behind each plant immediately after planting to provide support to the plant as it grows. Tie the central stem of the tomato to the stake every 8 inches as it continues to grow, using cloth or plastic plant ties.

Step 5

Apply a 3-inch layer of bark or straw mulch over the garden bed and around the tomato plants. Mulching preserves soil moisture and prevents weed growth in the garden bed.

Step 6

Water the plants once a week, providing 1 to 2 inches of water per plant. Water at the base of the plants and avoid spraying the leaves with moisture, as this can lead to disease or fungus.

Step 7

Check the undersides of leaves for aphids and other insect infestation at least once a week. Rinse off aphids with a sharp spray of water or use insecticidal soaps for aphid and other infestations.

Tips and Warnings

  • Cutworms chew off young tomato seedlings at the soil level. Place a purchased cutworm collar around each plant after sowing to prevent this.

Things You'll Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Stake
  • Plant ties
  • Mulch
  • Insecticidal soap

References

  • The Ohio State University Extension: Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden
  • Iowa State University Extension: Tomatoes
Keywords: cultivating tomato plants, caring for tomatoes, vegetable gardening

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.