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Growing Tomatoes

Category Growing Food
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.
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Solutions

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By 2 found this helpful
April 9, 2009

Botanical Name:

Lycopersicon esculentum

Description:

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.
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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.

Exposure:

full sun

Soil:

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

Planting:

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.
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Containers:

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

Watering:

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.

Maintenance:

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.
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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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Comment Was this helpful? 2
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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June 17, 20170 found this helpful

tomato suckers

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Use your fingers to quickly and easily remove these suckers before they start to compete with the main plant for nutrients. This is a guide about how to remove tomato suckers.

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June 14, 20170 found this helpful

Reroot Tomato Suckers as New Plant

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Tomato suckers are really easy to root and expand your plant count and thus your harvest. This is a guide about reroot tomato suckers as new plant.

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September 20, 2007

Photo of three tomatoes.

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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.

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June 8, 20170 found this helpful

Tomato Blossoms

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If your tomato plant is not setting fruit and the blossoms are falling off, there are several possible causes you will need to investigate, including temperature, pests, and soil deficiencies. This is a guide about blossoms falling off tomato plants.

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May 17, 20170 found this helpful

A bunch of ripe tomatoes growing outside.

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Some gardeners have good luck using buried PVC pipe with holes drilled in it to water their tomatoes. This is a guide about watering tomatoes underground with PVC pipe.

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By 7 found this helpful
July 11, 2011

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.

Comment Was this helpful? 7
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By 5 found this helpful
March 27, 2008

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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By 2 found this helpful
March 17, 2010

Red tablecloths over soil.

CommentPin It! Was this helpful? 2

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!

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March 10, 2014

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.

Comment Was this helpful? 5

March 22, 2011

If you like big ripe tomatoes, stick your tomato or tie it to a garden fence to keep it off the ground. Then when it gets growing good, take all the small branches off, leaving the 4 biggest branches. When more suckers start to grow, pinch them off of the plant.

Comment Was this helpful? 6
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By 1 found this helpful
July 12, 2014

tomato plant on its side 2

CommentPin It! Was this helpful? 1

I stirred in a slow release organic veggie fertilizer, crushed egg shells (and/or oyster shells), along with peat moss, vermiculite, compost, and a bit of potting soil. The shells will slowly release calcium which prevents blossom end rot.

December 13, 20160 found this helpful

Start Tomato Plants from Stems

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This is a guide about starting tomato plants from cuttings. Tomatoes are easy to grow from cuttings if you start early enough in the spring.

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By 2 found this helpful
May 14, 2013

Place about 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt around your tomato plants! Your plants will be full of tomatoes.

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August 10, 20160 found this helpful

Tomato plant with late blight and dying leaves

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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.

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May 4, 20160 found this helpful

Growing Tomatoes From Slices

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This is a guide about growing tomatoes from slices. Try this quick and easy way to plant tomato seeds from your store bought produce.

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April 19, 20160 found this helpful

Hanging planter baskets holding tomato plants with numerous yellow blossoms and green cherry tomatoes against a rustic background.

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This is a guide about growing tomatoes in hanging planters. We have seen the upside down planters for growing tomatoes, but you can also grow them in normal hanging planters.

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By 1 found this helpful
July 29, 2009

If your tomatoes grow up and over the tomato cage, sometimes the stem can get so heavy that it cuts the vine where it hits the top of the cage. A good solution to that is to cut lengths of pipe insulation to go around it.

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April 7, 20050 found this helpful

Cover your tomato plants with newspaper in the fall and they will survive the frosty nights. You will be able to pick tomatoes until December!

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By 0 found this helpful
February 23, 2006

When planting tomatoes add some dry milk into the planting hole to add calcium and prevent blossom end rot.

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June 8, 20130 found this helpful

Supporting Tomato Plants

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This is a guide about supporting tomato plants. Tomato plants generally need to be trellised or supported in some way.

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April 28, 20130 found this helpful

Cherry Tomatoes

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This guide is about growing cherry tomatoes. An abundance of these bite sized treats can be grown on the patio or in the garden.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 5, 2008

Tomatoes are touchy about getting too much rain or water overhead. First of all, plant the tomatoes as deeply as you can but not with the leaves touching the ground.

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October 20, 20110 found this helpful

Growing Tomatoes in Containers

CommentPin It! Was this helpful? Yes

This is a guide about growing tomatoes in containers. Container gardening is a great way to grow vegetables if you have limited space. Tomatoes are a good choice for this style of gardening. There are a few easy steps you can take to have a successful gardening experience.

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April 26, 20050 found this helpful

Before transplanting your tomato plant seedlings outside, make your planting hole a bit deeper than usual, and drop 2 teaspoons of epsom salts in each planting hole. Sprinkle some dirt in the hole, and then add your seedling.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
January 2, 2017

I am just wondering who had good luck with certain kinds of tomato plants? I tried a few new varieties last year, but was not impressed. I did best with Early Girl and Celebrity. I also like the Husky Cherry reds.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
January 3, 20170 found this helpful

Big Boy and Better Boy tomato plants do well in WI.

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By 0 found this helpful
September 18, 2015

A tomato plant, with many nice sized tomatoes sprang up spontaneouslly from a crack in the pavement on our property. While I know that tomato seeds spread and this is not uncommon, my question is about how safe are the tomotoes to eat? The reason I ask, is that it grew out of concrete, not soil, and more concerning, it is located about 50 cm-1 meter above the underground sewage pipe. Considering that this all happend in a period, when there was no rain, do we assume that it fed on (ugh) sewage? Or do these plants not need much water and it is not strange that it came out of concrete? The tomatoes are more robust than any plant I ever cultivated, they are almost the size of tangerines!

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
September 19, 20150 found this helpful

It is perfectly safe.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

By 0 found this helpful
August 4, 2015

On the tomato tag in the pot when you buy the plant, it has the tomato type and a maturity time. When does the maturity time start? When the seed is planted? When you put the plant in the ground? When? Thanks.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
August 4, 20151 found this helpful

The days to maturity listed on the seed packet, or in the plant description in seed catalogs, refers to the number of days from planting your tomato seedlings in the garden to the date of the first mature fruit. For tomatoes, the days to maturity ranges from less than 50 days to more than 90 days, depending on the cultivar and type of tomato.

Reply Was this helpful? 1

July 2, 20120 found this helpful

My tomato plants are loaded with fruit and blooms, but the tomatoes are not getting large enough before turning red. They are about tennis ball sized.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
July 11, 20120 found this helpful

Some tomatoes just grow to certain sizes. Unfortunately, tags and seeds get mixed up, so you cannot always rely on what it says you are buying. Rather than getting upset, just eat and enjoy them - there have been years when I'd have been glad to get any tomatoes at all. Even is you have a larger variety, poor soil, extreme temperatures, lack of water, and insect problems can stress plants causing fruit will ripen before growing to the proper size. Still, be glad to get fruit.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
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August 19, 20050 found this helpful

Tips for planting and growing tomatoes. Post your ideas.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
By guest (Guest Post)
June 5, 20060 found this helpful

on some of my tomatoes I have a large black mark at the base of some of the fruit, I would appreciate any help you could give me on this matter.

thanking you in anticipation

R W Tredgett

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By 0 found this helpful
July 18, 2010

How do I harvest Sweet 100 tomatoes? Do I cut the whole bunch of tomatoes off the vine or do I pick them individually?

Hardiness Zone: 7a

By grifft from Levittown, NY

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
July 20, 20100 found this helpful

I grew these tomatoes in my first garden about thirty years ago. They were easy to grow, and gave an abundant supply of small tomatoes. I let the kids pick them. They picked them individually, and they also ate every one that they picked.

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By 0 found this helpful
June 2, 2010

My tomatoes in containers are 4 1/2 ft tall and quite spindly. What have I done wrong? They were planted from 2 inch shoots about 4 weeks ago.

They are supposed to be "tree tomatoes" from Gardener's Choice and produce tons of tomatoes. Getting through to this company to ask a question is next to impossible.

Hardiness Zone: 9a

By JoieBK from Palm Coast, FL

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
June 5, 20100 found this helpful

Miracle Grow has a tomato fertilizer also that is formulated just for tomatoes. I also use it on clematis as they need the same nutrients. But about your tomatoes, personally, I would not buy anything from that company. They do not have a good reputation. If you go to Dave's garden, they have a page that people give positive and negative reviews of how the company's customer service is and none of the companies want to be on the negative list. I think that one usually is on the negative list. Check it out.

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By 0 found this helpful
June 19, 2013

I purchased a tomato plant, about a foot tall, put it in potting soil and even added ground eggshells. This happens every year. Something just eats away at the leaves (like a moth eats at fabric). I put Sevin dust one year, that just killed the plant. This year I put marigolds around it. I did see two caterpillars, dark brown with white stripes, on the ground a few mornings ago. I brought it into the patio (screened in) yesterday. What seems to be the problem? Since I don't have bees/insects to pollinate it will it produce tomatoes? The leaves do have a brown black outer color. I use rainwater and Miracle Gro. It gets at least 5 hours of sun. Help for the 5th year in a row.

By monroe95 from Kissimmee, FL

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
June 20, 20130 found this helpful

Well I had a tomato plant once and it was in my front yard. Every day when I came out in the morning there was snails all around it. So I put a thick layer of salt on the ground around the pot and replaced it every so often. It worked really well!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

July 22, 20120 found this helpful

I have large green tomatoes on the vine, planted from pots. How can I tell when they are ripe or will they turn red? I am a beginning gardener.

By Frank W from Anaheim, CA

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
July 23, 20120 found this helpful

When they are bright red - they are ripe! (But don't fail to look up great recipes for fried green tomatoes if some fall off the vine or you pick a few too early). Pluck and enjoy!

Good luck with your new gardening venture. You'll go through valleys and mountains for several seasons of learning curves, but you will never be disappointed with a great harvest. :) Just keep asking questions if you don't know the answers! Good luck and great eats!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

June 2, 20120 found this helpful

Something is wrong with my newly planted tomato plant. I planted them in Miracle Gro potting mix. The edges of the leaves are turning brown and the leaves are curling up. The center of leaves are still green. I need help fast. What is wrong and how to fix?

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
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