Tomatoes are one of the most commonly grown crops in home gardens. Many varieties of tomatoes provide suitable choices for various garden locations. Small tomatoes grow rapidly in patio pots or hanging pots. Large selections require sufficient garden space to reach their mature height and width. In cool climates, quick growth is an important factor. Certain planting and growing techniques ensure quick maturity, providing adequate time for a plentiful harvest of fresh tomatoes.
Purchase starter plants, rather than growing tomato plants from seeds. Visit your local garden center or nursery and choose healthy varieties of tomato plants. Look for potted plants with uniform growth, strong stems and rich, loose soil. Select varieties based on the length of time listed for maturity. Small varieties, such as cherry tomatoes, begin producing fruit earlier than large tomato varieties. Choose plants with small, yellow blossoms for early produce. Avoid plants that droop or appear long and leggy.
Select an area of your garden that receives plenty of bright sunlight and offers some protection from strong winds. Prepare your soil for your new tomato plants. Quick growth relies on adequate soil nutrients. Add a little fertilizer that is high in phosphorous, slightly high in potassium and low in nitrogen. Choose a formula specified for use with tomatoes and apply according to manufacturer’s instructions. Break up the soil with a garden shovel and thoroughly mix the fertilizer into the soil.
Plant your tomatoes outside after the soil temperatures warm to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a soil thermometer to avoid setting plants out too early. Allow plenty of room between your tomato plants to allow space for mature growth and sunshine. Crowding slows down growth and limits produce. Encourage quick and healthy growth by planting the tomato plants slightly deeper than the soil surface of their root balls. Gently remove tomato plants from their pots and set in the holes so their lower leaves are just above the surface of the soil. Replace soil around rootball and firm down with your hand to remove air pockets.
Water your tomato plants often to encourage quick growth. Soak the soil, providing each plant with approximately 2 quarts of water every day. Increase this amount to 4 quarts when the tomato plants begin producing fruit.