Americans consume more tomatoes that any other fruit or vegetable, averaging over 23 lbs. of tomatoes per person annually, according to TIMCO Worldwide. With over 10,000 varieties to choose from, there is a tomato suitable for growing in nearly any garden. Fruit ranges in size from a tiny 3/4-inch cherry tomato to the Guinness Book of World Records' largest tomato weighing in at 7 lbs.12 oz. and the largest plant reaching 65 feet. You can grow different varieties of tomatoes easily, because they all require the same basic care and growing conditions.
Select a location that receives at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day. Tomatoes thrive in hot afternoon sun and benefit from full sun all day.
Test the soil in your garden the fall to determine the pH level and nutrient content of the soil. Your local extension office probably provides soil-testing services for a minimal fee. These test results include a summary of your soil's needs with recommendations for amending the soil to improve texture, supply nutrients and adjust pH.
Amend and prepare your soil according to the information and instructions provided with the test results.
Purchase tomatoes specifically labeled for your area, or match the days to maturity to the first frost-free day in your area. Tomatoes that produce well in the northern states may not produce as well in southern areas.
Plant a variety of cultivars to expand your collection of tomatoes. One or two cherry tomatoes (available in red, orange or yellow) provide fresh tomatoes for a quick snack or for garden salads. Pear or plum tomatoes are ideal for cooking and making sauces. Also plant slicing tomatoes, from small, firm fruits to large beefsteak varieties.
Plant larger varieties on the north or east side of your garden so they don't shade smaller cultivars. Grow medium-height tomatoes in the middle of your garden, with the smallest determinate plants on the south or west.
Provide adequate support for large plants with wire cages or wooden structures. This keeps fruit off the ground, decreases the risk of disease and allows easy access for plant care and harvesting.
Water deeply once a week and apply 12-0-0 fertilizer labeled for tomato use every 14 days throughout the summer.