Planting TomatoesPlant your tomato crop in late spring or early summer. Tomatoes need 18in to 3ft to grow, depending on the variety, as well as a trellis or cage to encourage vertical growth. Plant tomatoes in a container or garden plot that receives at least 8 hours of sunlight per day, burying two-thirds of the stem to increase its ability to draw water from the soil. Test the soil’s pH before planting (6.2 to 6.8 is ideal for growing tomatoes) and supplement the plot with a balanced organic fertilizer. To create a nutrient-rich soil, mix in several inches of compost.
VarietiesTo determine which type of tomato to plant in your garden, first assess your reasons for planting. Heirloom and open-pollinated plants let gardeners save seeds from year to year. Hybrid tomatoes are bred with higher resistance to disease and pests, but do not grow from true seed. Determinate tomato plants will grow to a specific height and then stop, while indeterminate tomatoes will grow all season. Varieties may yield cherry-sized fruit (ideal for salads), large and juicy produce, thick-fleshed tomatoes that lend well to canning, non-red tomatoes, or fruit that slices well for eating. To learn more about choosing the right tomato plant, contact Autumn Hill Nursery.
MaintenanceGuarantee a bountiful harvest of tomatoes by:
- Keeping vines, leaves, and fruit supported off the ground
- Watering deeply (6 to 8 inch penetration) twice a week
- Feeding tomatoes frequently with an organic, phosphorus-rich fertilizer
- Keeping containers or vegetable gardens free of weeds
- Pruning stems and suckers below the first fruit cluster of indeterminate varieties (caged tomatoes can support 4-5 stems; stake-supported tomatoes can only sustain one or two main stems)
- Protect plants from temperature drops by covering them with lightweight fabric overnight