Learn how to grow delicious, healthy tomatoes with these simple tomato growing tips!
The phrase “Homegrown Tomatoes” is as sweet to me as “Summer Vacation.” To have great (or even good) tomatoes, you must start with sunshine, warmth, good soil, water, and a good supply of minerals.
Growing Tomatoes for Beginners
- Pick a sunny spot for your containers or garden.
- Make sure the soil is warm, somewhere between 60 and 75 degrees F.
- Make sure the soil is well-drained and fertile.
- Harden off the plants & ensure they’re healthy.
- Give the plants space.
- Feed the plants well throughout the season.
- Support the plants to keep them healthy.
- Water them to support deep roots.
Pick a sunny spot:
Tomato plants need a minimum of 6-8 hours of sunlight to produce the best quality and quantity of fruit. Find a spot that isn’t blocked too long by the shadows of trees, fencing, or your home.
Be aware of the impact that midday sun can have on tomato plants–This is some of the hottest, most intense sun they will endure, and you might need to add some shade cloth or other form of heat relief for your plants.
Make sure the soil is warm enough:
Don’t get in too big a hurry to get your plants in the ground. The early bird might get the worm, but warm ground grows tomatoes.
Cold ground doesn’t produce healthy plants and will do more to set your plants back than waiting for the ground to reach the desired temperature range between 60 and 75 degrees.
Make sure the soil is well-drained and fertile:
Tomatoes are heavy feeders, meaning they need a LOT of nutrients. The better prepared the soil is to meet the needs, the better the plants will produce.
Compost is an excellent source for adding and feeding the micronutrients that live in the soil. It even helps with aeration, water management, and attracting earthworms along with other helpful critters that keep your garden soil well balanced.
Harden off plants & ensure they are healthy:
Make sure your plants are healthy–Avoid yellowed, root bound, or wilted plants. These can be signs that the plants aren’t in the best of health.
If your plants are exhibiting signs of poor health, give them some added attention in the form of time before setting out. Give them a warmer climate, more light, and better water management.
To harden off plants, you want to allow them to become acclimated to the outdoors. For 1-2 weeks before planting, gradually expose your plants more and more to the outdoors so they learn how to manage sunlight, critters, and wind. This will help them grow stronger and more stable.
Give the plants space:
Tomatoes do best when they receive sunlight, air circulation, and diligent monitoring for signs of blight or pest infestations. A healthy plant saves you time and produces better yields.
If your plants begin to look stressed, fewer plants might actually be the prescription for the best yield (and a bonus is less time spent trying to fix things in the tomato patch).
Feed the plants well throughout the season:
Compost makes everything better–Compost goes to the basics of soil health, organic matter, aeration, and micronutrients.
I start my plants with a balanced fertilizer 10-10-10 for building drought- and disease-resistant plants that are capable of better yields. Once the first fruits are set, we begin side dressing with a 6-12-12 fertilizer and continue once a month for the duration of the season.
Support your plants to keep them healthy:
Your plants will need to be supported to keep them off the ground and healthy. Stakes, wire baskets, or livestock panels can all be used to support your plants. Pruning will also help manage the amount of foliage you have to support and promote better yields.
Water plants to support deep-growing roots:
Healthy high-yielding plants will need about an inch of water per week. It’s best to provide fewer deep waterings per week instead of several shallow waterings per week. The deeper the roots go for water, the better prepared they are going to be for the hot, dry days of summer.
How to grow tomatoes at home
While it can be time-consuming to follow these steps, the reward is getting to eat juicy, delicious homegrown tomatoes! If you’ve got well-lit, well-drained, warm, fertile soil, you’ll likely be able to manage a good harvest!