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How to Grow Sweet Tomatoes

By Nannette Richford ; Updated September 21, 2017
Allow tomatoes to ripen on the vine to improve flavor and sweetness.
tomato vine image by Horticulture from Fotolia.com

The size, flavor and texture of tomatoes depends largely on the cultivars planted. Flavors range from mild and sweet to robust flavors with a bit of kick. Although size and texture do not directly affect the sweetness, it does affect the overall experience of eating tomatoes. Typically, a sweet tomato retains the flavor when cooked, but not all tomatoes are suitable for cooking. To grow sweet tomatoes, carefully choose the cultivars known for their sweetness, keeping in mind the ultimate use of the tomato (fresh or cooked) and develop sound gardening techniques to enhance those natural flavors.

Prepare soil in a sunny location that receives six to eight hours of direct sunlight by tilling to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. Remove rocks, roots and other debris and rake the area smooth.

Test the soil to determine pH and nutrient content. Contact your local extension office for a kit to test your soil. Follow the instructions for gathering the soil sample and mail or deliver the sample to the office. For a minimal fee, the extension office will assess your soil, providing a written summary of your soil’s needs and directions for amending the soil to balance nutrients, adjust pH and improve its texture. Follow the directions for amending your soil.

Select cultivars known for their sweetness. Although proper cultivation enhances natural flavors, each variety has its own flavor. Browse seed catalogs and read the descriptions carefully to select tomatoes with high sugar content.

Plant tomatoes in the spring after the danger of frost has passed and temperatures remain above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Although temperature into the mid to high 30s will not damage tomato plants, it will cause stress and may inhibit vigorous growth for several weeks.

Space plants 24 to 36 inches apart to provide adequate room for growth and cultivation and to improve air circulation.

Provide adequate water to produce sweet, juicy fruits. Tomatoes require deep watering to the root level once a week or more often in dry periods. Those grown in containers may require daily watering.

Fertilize with water-soluble foliar feeder on a 10- to 14-day cycle. Choose one labeled for tomatoes. Foliar feeders provide immediate nutrients through the leaves of the plant and promote lush, vigorous growth.

Prune blooms and small fruit late in the season to direct the plant's energy to the existing tomatoes. Allow tomatoes to ripen on the vine as the process increases the sugar content and produces sweet tomatoes.


Things You Will Need

  • Garden tools
  • Soil test kit
  • Soil amendments
  • Foliar feeder

About the Author


Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.