How To Grow Tomatoes

The main reason to learn how to grow tomatoes is simple. For food.

The adventure of successful gardening, the beauty of the plants and fruit are a bonus.

Buy seeds or plants based on favorite tomato recipes. Whether it's pasta sauce, tomato soups, salads, salsa or sandwiches, the goal is to match the tomato(es) to the recipes. When growing tomatoes, it's best to try a few different varieties for tomato recipes.

Plan the garden by deciding when, where and how to grow tomatoes.

New gardeners pick a location in the yard, deck or patio, then go to the local home improvement center, purchase plants, plant them, water them and wait for the tomatoes. That is the perfect scenario, if it works, great.
Veteran gardeners realize that success has to have a plan. The plan should include various prevention methods. Prevention methods help reduce the possibility of common tomato planting problems.

Even the best prevention plan won't eliminate all possible problems regarding growing tomatoes, but will increase success rates. Prevention methods will be reviewed in each phase of the garden plan.

The Garden plan demonstrates steps to set up a productive tomato garden.

"How to Grow Tomatoes Garden Plan"

First, when and where to start the process. Timing is everything when learning how to grow tomatoes. Planning for next season's garden should start months in advance.

Focus on how the garden produced the previous season. Think of how to improve the approach for next years garden.

If this is a first attempt at learning how to grow tomatoes, follow a solid plan for optimum results. This guide should help.

When to plant tomatoes is as important as learning how to grow tomatoes. Tomato seed packs and seedlings purchased at a local garden center, should show the growing time (Ex. 60-75 days).

Next, decide whether to select a variety that is an early, mid or late season tomato. If the property is large enough to support different garden locations, it is possible to start with an early variety and also plant a late variety for a late season harvest. This would provide tomatoes from late spring into the fall in the North and winter into early summer in the South.

In the northern regions, the best time to get tomato planting started is early spring, after the last frost. In Subtropical areas such as Florida, the end of hurricane season into early winter is best. Knowing when to plant tomatoes will help in developing a solid garden plan.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! The famous Real estate formula for success holds true in the garden as well. Depending on the size and configuration of the property, where to place a garden can influence results.

A confined space or wide open area full of opportunities, are both capable of producing nice crops. Naturally, gardening methods would vary. If the available area is a patio or deck, growing styles will be limited. Many Patio growers have achieved great success using both hanging and potted container growing methods.

Key to choosing the best area on the property is the amount of available sunlight on the selected location. Most tomato gardeners believe 6 - 8 hours are required for best results.

Success can be attained with as little as 4 hours of sunlight a day. Early, mid-day and late afternoon sunlight have different effects on tomato growth. The available sunlight doesn't necessarily have to be constant. Some plants like intermitent sunlight, a little in the morning and then more later in the day. An area with this type sunlight seems to do better when weather tends to get hot. Monitor the sunlight in the selected location.

Even in limited spaces the flow of sunlight should be the first consideration. If sunlight is limited, when choosing plants look for varieties that may not require full sun. Concentrating on the other steps of tomato planting can produce abundant results in small, minimally lighted areas.

When the available area is acres,opportunity for multible locations and growing styles should have abundant possibilities. Most gardeners have average sized yards and limited gardening areas with the necessary sunlight for growing tomatoes.

Knowing this information will help in deciding irrigation, mulching and which type plant will work best in that location. Another thing to remember is to keep the location far enough away from bushes and other plants in the garden. Some plants may interfere with watering meant for tomatoes or may not be beneficial companions for tomatoes.

The "How" part of the process is more in depth and requires a little more attention to detail.

Following is a garden plan outline of the four "How" to grow tomatoes items to consider. This section will show basic information on each phase.

Detailed information is available on this site's pages dedicated to "Soil", "Watering", "Tomatoes", "Plants", "Planting", "Beefmaster Project" and "Victory Garden"

The "How" part of the process is more in depth and requires a little more attention to detail.

SOIL - This is an often overlooked item in tomato gardens. The dirty side of growing tomato plants should be a top priority.

Choosing the perfect location and not paying attention to the quality of the soil could ruin the whole project. Test the soil for Ph and nutrient balances well in advance of the coming season.

Adjust nutrients as needed and re-check again before tomato planting begins. Loamy soil rich in nutrients is the best bet for tomatoes.

Some regions are blessed with perfect soil and need absolutely nothing.

The BeefMaster and Victory Garden Winter Projects illustrate that Florida soil is SAND. Florida garden sand has to be conditioned for top results.

Soil in areas like South Eastern Pennsylvania, is dark and very rich with an almost clay like consistency. Great soil, except for the fact that the soil gets so hard and tight the roots of the plants can't penetrate deep enough. That kind of soil requires a totally different type of conditioning.

In many gardens a compost pile is a great way to increase the potential of garden soil. Want to get a little deeper and dirtier? Go to the "Soil" page for more information or checkout the dirt we found at our DiMare Farm Visit.

WATERING TOMATOES - There's nothing worse than finding the perfect location and not having access to water.

Water for growing tomatoes can be delivered from various sources and watering styles.

Patios and deck areas are usually watered with a garden hose or a water bucket.

Hoses and sprinkler systems are the mainstay for the typical home garden.

Properties with acreage may require more sophisticated water delivery systems.

The "Victory Garden Project" uses a couple of irrigation methods, including a low volume underground system.

How much and how often to water? The answer varies with the plants, soil, weather, drainage and irrigation method choosen.

The Watering Tomatoes, Beefmaster and Victory Garden Project Pages will provide more details on how to grow tomatoes.

PLANTS - Looking at the pictures of tomatoes on the plastic I.D. tag sticking out of the seedlings being purchased, may not provide the "whole" picture.

Some other very important information should be included. Generic I.D. tags show tomato Variety (name), Days to Maturity and fruit size.

Some producers include more information to help in making the right choice. Other information may include: Hybrid or Heirloom, A series of disease identifiers such as "V F N" That show diseases the plant is able to defend against, early, mid or late season variety and whether the plant is a determinant or indeterminant.

If the I.D. doesn't show the extra information regarding the details of the selected plant, go to the "PLANTS" Page to learn the importance of each item. Buying seeds and starting from scratch is another way to start learning how to grow tomatoes. Information on growing tomatoes from seed is also included.

PLANTING - This is one of the most important steps in growing tomatoes and should be involved in each of the other steps when planning a garden.

Determining the planting style to use should match up with the Location, Soil, Irrigation and plants choosen.

Things to consider in the process are; soil, garden area required for each plant, plant size, plant support, irrigation positioning, mulching and space for integrating companion plants.

Planting gardens big or small, a solid plan will help the garden be healthy and abundant. The "PLANTING" page will help coordinate a tomato planting plan essential for learning how to grow tomatoes.

Once your tomato garden is growing don't forget about the Natural Health advantages of tomatoes.

The Winter Garden Projects, Beefmaster and Victory Garden, intentionally test the limits of each step of planning.

Following the process should demonstrate how to grow tomatoes and some serious do's and don'ts with results both good and bad. Learn Planning strategies as well as pitfalls in Beefmaster and Victory Garden. Beefmaster Tomato Project

Want to start a garden with all the "How To Grow" information? Find step by step landscaping and gardening information in our Victory Garden Project Series

Looking for great tomato Recipes? Check the Everything Tomatoes Recipe List

Some Things never change. My all time favorite web page about tomatoes is based on an article by George Washington Carver.

While he is famous for pioneering the use of the peanut, not many realize his contributions in other agricultural areas such as growing tomatoes. The article was first printed in 1918. Most of his information about how to grow tomatoes, remain true today.

How to Grow Tomatoes - plus 115 Great Recipes!