Growing Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a very rewarding addition to any garden. They are relatively easy to grow and you won't have any trouble finding ways to use them at the dinner table. This is a guide about growing tomatoes.

April 9, 2009 Flag
2 found this helpful

Botanical Name:

Lycopersicon esculentum


Tomatoes are members of the nightshade family. Originally from South and Central America, today the tomato is grown worldwide for its brightly colored, edible fruits. Red tomatoes contain the pigment lycopene, a well-known antioxidant thought to help prevent some cancers.

Planting Time:

Sow seeds outdoors when air and soil temperatures reach 60F. Set transplants out when nighttime temperatures stay above 50F. Sow seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before transplanting.


full sun


loose, well-drained, nutrient-rich soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.8.


Plant seedlings in large holes supplemented with kelp and bone meal to provide plants with the extra potassium and phosphorus they need. Allow at least 2 to 3 feet between staked plants in rows spaced 3 feet apart. Sow seeds directly 1/2 inch deep and 2 inches apart. To plant tomatoes in trenches, strip all but the top sets of leaves from plants and place them on their sides in a 2 to 3 inch trench. Firm the soil around the plants and as they grow, the plants will turn upward while the buried stems produce roots. Use this method if transplants are tall and leggy at planting time.


Tomatoes are also well suited to growing in containers. Look for cultivars that are specifically bred to be patio' plants.


Keep soil evenly moist (not wet). Water from the ground and early in the day to help prevent disease. Keep plants watered well during dry periods.


Support plants with stakes or cages if necessary. Snap off any suckers (off-shoots) that appear between the main stem and the stems of the leaves to focus the plant's energy on producing fruit. If your soil is poor in nutrients, feed plants a solution containing fish emulsion once per week until the plants flower. If plants are growing vigorously with dark green leaves, they do not need nitrogen. Too much will increase leaf production and decrease fruit production. On the other hand, yellowing leaves may indicate a need to add nitrogen. Areas with extremely warm summer temperatures may need to protect fruit from sun scald and prevent blossom drop.

Harvesting & Storage:

Tomatoes are ready to harvest when they have developed their full, mature color. Harvest them ripe or while still slightly green and let them ripen at room temperature out of direct sunlight. Cold causes flavor loss so do not refrigerate them. Harvest all remaining tomatoes before the first hard frost. Freeze extras, or if still green, store them in a box filled with newspaper in a dark room (at 55 to 60F) and they will continue to ripen over several weeks.

Diseases and Pests:

Unfortunately, tomatoes are susceptible to damage from a wide variety of insects and diseases. Purchase seeds or plants that are resistant to common tomato diseases and don't plant in areas that have had tomato troubles in the past. Keep soil moisture consistent to help prevent fruit from cracking and water plants early in the day (from the ground) so leaves have time to dry before nightfall. Check for worms and caterpillars that can be picked off by hand and for signs of aphid infestations that can be sprayed off with a hose.

Tips to Success:

Tomatoes cultivars are either determinate (grow to a specific height, flower and produce in short time) or indeterminate (grow, flower and fruit over a long period of time). Determinant tomatoes are good for large crops used for canning. Indeterminate varieties are best if you want to pick tomatoes to eat fresh.

Many of today's tomatoes are hybrids and won't breed true if seeds are saved and planted the following season. If growing plants with the intention of saving seed, choose heirloom varieties for offspring that reproduce true to their mother plant. Mixing some lime into the soil adds calcium that will help balance soil minerals, helping prevent some types of fruit deformities as well as blossom end rot.

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April 9, 20090 found this helpful

An interesting fact I discovered about tomatoes is that they are actually a perennial, but we treat them as an annual.

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September 1, 2011 Flag
2 found this helpful

Tomatoes are America's most popular garden crop, but they are not necessarily the easiest crop to grow. Even the most experienced gardeners occasionally find themselves at a loss as to why their tomato plants fail. Here are a few helpful guidelines for understanding tomatoes.

Two tomatoes on vine sprinkled with water

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October 10, 2016 Flag
6 found this helpful

These tomatoes are growing like gangbusters, but early in the season the vines were weak looking and the tomatoes gnarly. I took them in because the nights are getting cold and because I noticed the skins were showing cracks. They look pretty with my aloe vera by the window.

tomatoes on dish

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September 15, 2015 Flag
4 found this helpful

Cut tomato suckers, bury them in garden soil with added vermiculite (which absorbs 10x its weight in water), cover with a clear juice jug with bottom cut out and no lid. Keep it watered and it will root. New plant! Now that's thrifty.

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September 20, 20150 found this helpful

I got 45 new tomato plants from FOUR original plants, by plucking off the suckers and just sticking them in soil - only a few suckers didn't root. This extends your tomato-growing season and saves a lot of $$ because you're not buying more plants!

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September 23, 20150 found this helpful

July 21, 2016 Flag

Tomato suckers are side shoots that grow out of the place where a branch meets the stem. If left to grow, they will compete with the main plant for nutrients. You may get more fruit, but they will be smaller. It's recommended to prune them. They are really easy to remove; all you need are your fingers!

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July 28, 20160 found this helpful

Tomato suckers have to be removed but all you need is :

. a pair of scisors to do neat cuttings

. alcool to clean the scisors when you go from one plant to another

. a very sunny day at midday with plenty of sun light on the plants to dry the cuts you make as quiclky as possible

Because you do not want to make it easier for the mildew to settled on your tomato plants. Take the same care when you cut the lower leaves or any other part of the plant because any cutting is an opened door for mildew.

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August 9, 2016 Flag

Photo Description
These tomatoes are better than candy! There is nothing like a fresh-picked tomato.

Photo Location
Long Island, NY

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August 11, 20160 found this helpful

The Beefsteak was Mama's favorite. They are good.

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August 6, 2015 Flag

Photo Description
These are BetterBoy tomatoes being grown in 5 gal. buckets. Silly me, after pulling all the ripe ones, I think of taking a picture. There are tomatoes at 5 ft., 6 ft., 7 ft., and 8 ft. At 9 and 9½ ft. there are blooms.

BetterBoy is an indeterminate tomato, meaning it doesn't stop growing at a determined height. It will continue growing til frost and this is just August 05. Golly, things grow bigger and better around here. And this ain't even Texas.

Guess I'll need a step ladder.

I didn't know BetterBoy was a 'tree tomato'.


Hope to have a better camera, soon.

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August 26, 20150 found this helpful

I never tried growing them in 5 gallon buckets but may do it next year. I'm having a real problem with the crows getting them in the garden. I have to pull them when they start turning yellow and set them out to ripen.

Looks like you have your plant under a tree. Is it getting much sun there? Also, I would like to know how you stake your tomatoes. I have a hard time doing that.

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March 27, 2008 Flag
5 found this helpful

If you live in an apartment with only a small balcony, have super-rocky soil, or are just down-right lazy like me, you can grow tomatoes, flowers and other plants in the same bag the potting soil comes in!

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July 11, 2011 Flag
7 found this helpful

Locals in my area recommend planting tomatoes on their sides rather than vertically for better developed roots systems and healthier, stronger plants. I dug individual trenches for each plant, added fertilizer, compost and a few tablespoons of sugar.

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June 11, 2010 Flag
7 found this helpful

I recycled my milk jugs by planting tomatoes in them upside down, and fed them used coffee grounds, they are thriving!

Hanging Tomatoes

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September 20, 2007 Flag

Tomato growing secrets submitted from the ThriftyFun community. The number 1 secret for growing great tomatoes is water control. A tomato is 90% water. It needs a constant supply of water measured out on a consistent basis.

Photo of three tomatoes.

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March 17, 2010 Flag
2 found this helpful

Instead of spending $12 on a roll of red plastic to put around our tomato plants (to speed up growth) we purchased 2 red plastic tablecloths from a Dollar Store. They worked great!

Red tablecloths over soil.

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August 10, 2016 Flag
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This is a guide about troubleshooting tomato problems. If your tomato harvest is disappointing due to disease, pests, or growing conditions there some easy solutions to your gardening issues.

Tomato plant with late blight and dying leaves

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April 1, 2008 Flag
0 found this helpful

Another poster on here mentioned using black plastic bags as containers for growing tomatoes. I was wondering if anyone could elaborate on that method?

three tomatoes

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March 10, 2014 Flag

Powdered milk can also be a fertilizer for your tomato plants. When you're ready to put your tomato plants in the ground, put a handful of powdered milk in the bottom of each hole first.

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