How to Grow Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a delicious and nutritious food that many people enjoy. If you want to know how to grow tomatoes, you have the option of planting them from seed or transplanting a tomato plant.

Tomatoes start to produce fruit within six weeks of planting the seedlings in your garden or container. 

There are many varieties of tomatoes, including heirloom and cherry tomatoes, so it’s important to choose the right one for you before starting your tomato garden. This article will discuss how to grow tomatoes in your garden using both methods.

We know there the is lots of information out there about growing tomatoes, so much so that it can be quite confusing to know which is the best advice to follow.

However, this guide will show you how to take care of them once they are planted and how to get the most out of your harvest!

growing tomatoes

Table of Contents

What are the different types of tomatoes

There are many different types of tomatoes. Some have thick skins, while others seem more delicate and break apart easily. There are also some that taste sweet when they are ripe, but a lot of people enjoy the tangy flavour of green ones!

Do you know how to tell if your tomato is ready to be picked? It should feel firm and heavy for its size; this means it has ripened properly on the vine or branch where it grew.

One type you might want to try growing in your garden is an heirloom tomato plant. One thing about these plants that makes them so good is how diverse their flavours can be – from fruity tones like oranges and lemons all the way through to savoury.

tomato growing in hands

What you'll need to start growing tomatoes

  • Potting Soil (available at nursery and garden centres)
  • Stakes for trellises or cages
  • Tomato seedlings to plant in containers
  • A warm place such as a greenhouse
  • Fertilizer

Potting soil for your tomatoes

When it comes to the soil for growing tomatoes, there are lots of things to consider. The key is to go with something that will provide the right balance of nutrients and water for your tomato seeds and tomatoes plants.

  • Composted soil
  • Potting mix from a nursery or garden centre
  • Topsoil
  • Peat moss (a product made of compressed sphagnum moss)
  • Coconut coir pellets (made from processed coconuts, this option is environmentally sustainable as well as reusable)

Seeds

There are hundreds of tomato seeds available, but how do you know which to choose? Deciding what seeds to choose can be rather difficult but here are some things to consider to make this task easier.

Think about what type of tomatoes you want. Do you want tomatoes that are good for canning or slicing? Is it important to you how the tomato tastes? How large do you want your tomatoes to be? Do you want your tomatoes to be used in a sauce or paste?

tomato seeds

Topsoil

Topsoil is important for tomato growth because it provides a healthy environment for roots and plants. Healthy garden soil will also minimize the need to fertilize, as it naturally has what the tomato plant needs from nature.

The type of topsoil available can affect how well it supports growing tomatoes because different soils have different levels of nutrients that are necessary for optimal growth.

The pH level can be caused by using too much or not enough lime in the soil, but this issue can easily be remedied quickly. Adding peat moss helps provide extra moisture to keep your garden healthier in dry weather while compost does help break down organic material into usable nutrient-rich substances for better health.

Putting your tomato seeds in containers

Containers should be at least six inches deep and have holes in the bottom to provide drainage.

There are quite a few benefits to using containers such as:

  • You can easily transfer seeds into larger pots when they grow
  • You can use them for other plants
  • How well, your plants will drain out excess water so that the soil doesn’t become saturated
  • The container protects seedlings from pests and diseases because they remain isolated during their vulnerable stage of early development

Why do your tomatoes need warmth and light

Your tomatoes need warmth and light because they are a plant that grows from the warmth of its parent. The seedling and young plants need to be positioned where they can get as much light as possible without becoming stressed.

Look for locations in your house or garden that will provide them with at least six hours of sunlight per day.

Tomatoes do best when temperatures during the daylight hours stay between 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but some varieties grow well in warmer climates up to 95 degrees F.

The tomatoes should also not receive too much water because this can cause mildews, which is how many tomato type problems start.

How to Grow tomatoes

To help maximize the success of your seed-starting, make sure to moisten and fill with an even layer. Firm it down without compacting so that there is plenty of space for air circulation in between the mixture which will allow seeds to grow into plants!

Place two or three seeds into each small container (or cell) of a seed starter. Cover the seed with about 1/4″ of soil and gently firm it over the seeds so that they are secure.

To get your plants to grow, they need their soil moistened. You can use a plant mister or just dribble a stream of water over the top. Your seeds will have better contact with the dirt when you are using this technique!

Place the seed pots in a warm spot or on top of a heat mat. At this point, they don’t need light to grow.

Check your pots often. Once sprouts are visible, remove the covering and place them in a sunny window or under grow lights so they can continue to thrive!

Continuing to grow tomatoes

Increasing your tomatoes’ growth rate is tough! Don’t forget to rotate the pots and keep them moist, or they may start to wilt.

If you’re growing on a windowsill, be sure to turn the pot daily so that it’s not leaning toward the light; if you are using lights (which we recommend), raise those babies up as they grow — just enough for good air circulation and maximum health potential.

ripe tomatoes

Thinning your tomatoes

For the strongest, healthiest plants, you’ll want to ensure that you only have one seedling per pot or cell. Thinning (removing extra seedlings) is tricky for many gardeners because you’re disrupting how the plant grows, and how much space it needs.

You can’t go wrong with picking the healthiest seedling and snipping off all of your competition at the soil line. Planting extras is risky because it may disturb roots, but if you have room in your garden for more plants then give these a try!

Fertilizing

There are two options for how to fertilize tomatoes: Natural or Chemical:

Natural

Natural methods include composting, mulching and cover cropping (which is the practice of planting a crop that will be harvested before it matures).

These practices provide nutrients in addition to retaining moisture and preventing erosion. Composting can also help prevent plant diseases by keeping fungi out of your soil.

Mulching helps keep weeds down which frees up space for air circulation around plants’ roots so their growth isn’t stunted from lack of oxygen because they’re competing with dense weed populations below ground level.

Chemical

Chemical fertilizer may be used, but only if the soil pH and fertility levels are healthy.

Chemicals may be applied to your tomato plants for weed control, insect infestations or disease prevention.

Once a plant is edible, pesticides will not kill it. This means that tomatoes with less than perfect skin can still provide benefits by eating them raw in salads or cooking

ripe fruit

How much water do tomato plants need?

Tomatoes need water about every two days. As the plant grows, it will require more water to feed its needs. But how much is enough?

When watering a tomato plant, make sure that you are not pouring all of your excess liquid on the leaves as this can lead to disease and mould growth.

Instead, saturate either side of the root area with just enough moisture so that there won’t be any drips or puddles below the pot’s base. This ensures healthy soil levels for optimal nutrient absorption which promotes lush green foliage and happy tomatoes!

The soil should stay moist but never wet – if too much water seeps into the roots then they’ll suffocate from lack of oxygen because they are too wet.

If the plant is wilting, that means it needs water – and fast! As soon as you spot a drooping leaf or any signs of soil moisture depletion, head out to your garden and give your tomatoes some much needed TLC.

How do you train tomato plants?

How you train your tomato vines depends on whether you choose to cordon/ indeterminate, semi-determinate or determinate varieties

  • Cordon/indeterminate: The most common tomatoes, these single stemmed plants with the side shoots removed grow very tall, sometimes reaching 2.5m.
  • Semi-determinate: Similar to indeterminate varieties (grown as cordons) but producing shorter plants.
  • Bush/Determinate: Stop growing sooner than indeterminate varieties with the stem ending in a fruit truss. They are referred to as ‘bush’ and ‘dwarf’ types and are suitable for hanging baskets. They don’t require any pruning.

with indeterminate and semi-determinate varieties, tie the stems to a cane or other support.

In addition, how you train your tomatoes can be influenced by which cultivar is chosen. For example:

Domino/ determinate type and ground cover types such as cherry tomato varieties require training with stakes to form an even mat of fruit on the ground; these are often grown in rows but also may be trained into espalier shapes using horizontal wires against walls or trellis panels.

Cordon/indeterminate types need no pruning for fruiting plants because they grow very tall and therefore will not have any branches below about 60 cm from the soil surface, so there’s room for all their flowers to set fruit except at flowering time when some shoots should be removed.

When should you harvest tomatoes?

You should start to pick your cherry tomatoes when they start to ripen and gain full colour. With cherry tomato, this typically takes between four and six weeks of growth time in most climates. Start checking them every day once they are about 75% coloured-in and ready for picking!

determinate tomatoes

Common problems when growing tomatoes

Tomato Blight

Wet weather can be a common problem for tomato growers. When the ground gets too wet, plant roots can’t get enough oxygen to live. This means that your cherry tomatoes and other varients won’t grow or will suffer from a disease called root rot if they’re planted in soggy soil.

Fruit issues

Consistency can be crucial when it comes to watering your tomatoes. Irregular water or too much water too late in growth can cause fruiting problems.

  • Blossom End Rot: Dark patch that forms at the base of the plant, more common if the plant is grown in a grow bag.
  • Blossom Drop: Bud of the flower falls off.
  • Dry Set: Fruitlet growth stops when the fruit is a similar size to a match head.
  • Splitting fruit

The key to a healthy crop of tomatoes is water delivered at the correct rates. Too much too late can cause problems, especially in pots and grow bags where there isn’t enough room for runoff.

Too much direct sunlight can cause a tomato to become soft and yellow. Plants can become stressed due to heat. If this is the case, increase their potassium intake and keep them covered with fleece or shading during the hottest parts of the day like noon-2pm. You could also consider using resistance varieties such as “Alicante” or “Craigella.”

Insect pests

For a healthy and pest free garden, you must be proactive with your plants. Pests like greenfly can spread viruses so it’s important to spray vines as soon as they are noticed.

Organic growers might prefer planting marigold varieties that attract beneficial insects which will help prevent pests from attacking the plant in the first place.

Leaf problems

Curling leaves may be caused by aphids sucking the sap from them, but if there’s no sign of insects then the most likely culprit is cold night-time temperatures. If this is your case, you don’t need to worry!

Mosaic patterns can be seen on the skin of a tomato, and these are indicative that it has been infected with a virus. The best thing to do is remove them from your garden before they spread this disease any further. Make sure you wash all tools, boots and gloves after coming into contact with diseased plants so as not to infect anything else in your garden!

A yellowing of the leaves is a common symptom that can be caused by many different factors, but one issue could potentially stem from magnesium deficiency. The good news for this plant owner is that it’s an easy fix with some special feedings to help build up those levels again!

blossom end rot

Conclusion

The satisfaction of growing your own tomatoes is incomparable. If you’ve never tried it before, try planting a few tomato plants in your garden or even inside on the windowsill to get started! We hope this article has given you the confidence to grow your own tomatoes, and how to do it the right way!

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Oliver Wright

I hope you enjoy reading some of the content and ideas from this site, I tend to share articles and product reviews on a daily basis, so be rest assured… you won’t run out of things to read!

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