By Michael Jenkins | April 9
For many of us, summertime means fresh tomatoes, right off the vine. It’s a delicious way to celebrate the season, and home-grown tomatoes are a one of life’s real joys. The good news is that growing your own tomatoes is much easier than you might think. While every gardener has their own approach to growing tomatoes, and their own blend of secrets and tricks, there are some general rules of thumb for increasing your successes with tomatoes in your own garden. So let’s take a look at some tips for growing tomatoes at home!
The first thing to do is to decide which variety of tomatoes you’d like to grow. If you’re a container gardener or working with limited space, you may want to select a container variety of tomatoes. These will generally yield smaller fruits—cherry tomatoes—but they’re prolific producers and will supply you with tomatoes all season long. If you have some space for larger containers or a raised bed garden, you can grow full-sized plants, which come in two general varieties. Determinate tomato plants are bush-type tomatoes, which grow more compact, bush-like plants and take up far less space in the garden. Indeterminate tomato plants are vine-type plants, which sprawl out and require trellises, tomato cages, or other kinds of support. They also generally yield larger fruit than determinate plants do. There’s no wrong answer, it’s all about finding the right plants for your space and your needs.
The next step is preparing your space so that your tomatoes can thrive. In general, tomatoes like sun—at least six hours of direct sunlight a day—and they prefer rich, well drained, yet moist soil with plenty of air circulation. For many gardeners, this is easiest to achieve in a container garden. Container gardening lets you control the soil conditions and nutrition, makes it easier to keep an eye on moisture levels, and enables you to move plants around as conditions dictate. The right container will promote good air circulation and healthy root growth while preventing either drying out or waterlogged soil.
In any event, successfully growing tomatoes means giving them the right nutrition. Using a fertilizer designed for growing tomatoes is the best choice, helping you make sure your plants have the food they need for every stage of their development. One final tip when it comes to nutrition: tomatoes need more calcium than some plants. Calcium helps prevent blossom-end rot, which as the name implies causes the end of the fruit with the flower on it to decay. When planting your tomatoes either in ground or in a container, some additional calcium in the form of a crushed-up eggshell is a good idea. It’ll help get your plants off to a good start and along with a good fertilizer keep them thriving all season long.
There’s a lot more to tomato care, but the tips here should help get you started growing tomatoes successfully. Do you have any of your own secrets or tricks for ensuring the best tomato crop? Let us know in the comments or on social media. We love to hear from you and we’d love to know how your garden is growing!