Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables grown every year in backyard and patio gardens throughout the summer months. Whether you have a large backyard garden or a small space on your patio that you dedicate to gardening, you can grow fresh, healthy tomatoes for your enjoyment this growing season.
The type of tomatoes you choose to grow in your garden depends on your preferences of taste, size and what grows best in your area. According to This Old House website, if you are a novice tomato gardener, choose several varieties that have been designated as All-American Selections winners.
When you choose plants of several varieties, you will have a better chance at being successful, because a disease that strikes one plant variety may not strike the others.
Tomato plants need at least eight hours of sunlight a day and well-drained soil rich in organic materials. Whether you plant your tomatoes in patio pots or an in-ground garden, make sure the area gets at least eight hours of sunlight. Mix several inches of compost into the top 6 inches of soil to create nutrient-dense soil for your tomatoes.
Wait until soil temperatures reach at least 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit before planting tomatoes, according to the Tomato Gardening Guru website. Average daily temperatures should be in the '60s Fahrenheit before planting tomatoes outside. You can plant tomatoes a little earlier if you use protective straw or plastic jugs turned upside down over the plants, but planting too early will not gain you anything and may harm the plants.
Space plants 1 1/2 to 3 feet apart, according to This Old House, to allow for good air circulation. Good air circulation discourages disease.
Plant seedlings into the ground so that the bottom leaves are just above the soil. Roots grow along the buried stem and will result in stronger plants. Water the seedlings as soon as they are planted.
With tomato plants, This Old House recommends going easy on the fertilizer. Pour 1 pint of starter solution (2 tbsp. of 10-10-10 or 5-10-5 fertilizer per gallon of water) around each plant at the time of planting.
Tomato plants grow tall and need to be staked or caged at the time of transplanting. There are many ways you can stake tomato plants. You can use sticks and twine or buy professional tomato cages from your local gardening supply store.