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How To Grow Tomatoes

The champion of the garden, tomatoes are one of the most frequently judged vegetables in any garden. It is also the number one vegetable to be entered into contests. For the earliest tomatoes, start seeds indoors and transplant to the garden after there is no longer a danger of frost.

Place individual plants, including roots and dirt, in watered holes. Garden soil should be enriched with compost or aged manure. Use mulch while the plants are still only a few feet tall to ensure moisture retention. For best results, be sure to use a fertilizer with a high calcium content. This well help prevent blossom-end rot. Do not allow moisture levels to fluctuate too much - this will help prevent cracking. Water directly onto the soil, not the plant.

Light: Full Sun
Soil: Well-drained loam
Fertility: Medium-rich
pH: 6.0-6.5
Soil Temperature (F): 70-80
Moisture: Moist, not waterlogged
Maturity in days: 55-105

Planting: Tomatoes are tender plants and are very susceptible to frost damage. Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Sow 2-3 seeds in 1x1 cells and thin to 1 plant after germination. Cover seed with soil and provide a constant soil temperature of 21-26C (70-80F). Once plants are up, a growing light is necessary or seedlings will become tall and spindly. After plants develop 1-2 sets of true leaves, transplant into 3x3 or 4x4 pots. Use a water soluble fetilizer every two weeks starting at half srength and increasing to full strength over 6 weeks. Seedlings benefit from waterings with Epsom salts, use 1 Tbsp of Epsom salts per gallon. Transplant after all danger of frost has passed. When transplanting , space 24-36 apart with rows at least 36-48 apart.

Growing: Full sun location, preferably with good air circulation. Soil pH of 6.0-6.5. Heavy feeders, prefer a warm, well drained soil of good fertility and cultivation. Add plenty of compost and well rotted manure prior to planting. Feed regularly during the growing season with a compost tea or well balanced fertilizer. Avoid excessive nitrogen, particularly before fruit set. Provide even moisture during fruit set and development. Excessive watering can increase fruit size but decrease flavour. Use Epsom salts to improve growth, mix 2 Tbsp/gallon of water and feed to plants every other watering.

Harvest: Pick fruit when fruit is firm and turning red. Overripe tomatoes rot quickly.

Pests & Diseases: Protect from cutworms by using protective collars around the plant stem or place cornmeal around plant base. Blossom end rot (a brownish-black, sunken dead area that forms on the bottom of the fruit) is a condition caused by a calcium deficiency due to uneven watering. Blight, another disease common to tomatoes is caused by warm, humid conditions particularly if plants have not been given some support to keep foliage off the ground. Use copper or sulphur sprays to help prevent blight. Good air circulation along with proper rotation will help to prevent onset of this harmful disease.

Companions: Asparagus, basil, bush bean, cabbage family, carrot, celery, chive, cucumber, garlic, lettuce, onion, pepper.

This article used with permission from

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By USA Gardener