Are you interested in learning How You can Grow Tomatoes from Seed in the easiest and best way ever possible?
Would you like to have a Step-by-Step Guide that is perfect for beginners?
Here, in this article, we will teach you how to grow and harvest tomatoes in the easiest way possible.
Table of Contents
Are Tomatoes Vegetable or a Fruit?
We eat the fruit of the tomato plant. But tomato is used typically as a vegetable in cooking and eating. Therefore it is commonly treated as a vegetable.
1) When to Plant Tomatoes
- If you want to grow tomatoes from seed (versus transplants), you have to start with tomato seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the average last spring frost date.
- Transplant the tomato seedlings only after the last spring frost. By this time the soil becomes warm.
2) Selecting and Preparing a Planting Site.
- Select a site that receives proper sunlight. Also, the soil should be well-drained. It is very important that the site where you will plant tomatoes receives at least 6 hours of daily sunlight.
- Dig the soil 1 foot deep two weeks before transplanting the tomato plants. Mix aged manure or compost with the soil. This will improve the fertility of the soil. Thus improving the overall growth of the plants.
- Some type of support system is generally recommended. But sprawling plants can also produce good quality of crops if you have enough space. Also, fine weather is helpful for better growth. However, the plants will be more prone to soil-borne diseases. They may even rot if not kept off the ground.
3) How To Plant Tomatoes
- Before planting in the garden, it is necessary to harden off the transplants or seedlings for a week before planting in the garden. Keep the young plants outdoors in the shade for 2-3 hours the first day. Gradually Increase their outdoor time. This will help them to get the necessary direct sunlight required for hardening.
- Maintain a gap of 2 feet between the transplants.
- Place tomato cages or stake in the soil at the time of planting tomatoes. This is necessary to avoid damage the roots face later on. Caging helps the plant hold itself upright. Staking assists in fruit development above the ground.
- Pinch off a few of the lower branches present on transplants. Now, plant the root ball deep enough so that only the leaves on the lowest portion are just above the surface of the soil.
- If your transplants are thin or leggy, you can correct this by burying up to ⅔ of the plant. This will include the lower sets of leaves. Tomato stems have the natural ability to grow roots from the stems buried in the soil.
- In order to reduce shock to the roots, water well.
Growing Tomatoes in Containers
- Use a large container or pot. Make sure that it has drainage holes in the bottom.
- Make use of loose, well-draining soil. We recommend a good potting mix mixed well with organic matter.
- Plant only one tomato plant per pot. Choose from the bush or the dwarf varieties; many of the cherry tomatoes grow better in pots.
- Taller varieties of tomatoes may need to be staked.
- Place the pot in a spot that receives 6 to 8 hours of sunlight in a day.
- Keep the soil moist. Containers always dry out quickly as compared to garden soil. Therefore make sure to check daily and provide ample water during a heatwave.
4) How to Take Care of Tomato Plant
- Water enough for the first few days that the transplants or tomato seedlings are in the ground.
- Make sure to water well throughout the growing season. Water nearly about 2 inches per week during the summer season. Remember to water the transplants deeply for a strong and sturdy root system.
- Always water the plants in the early morning hours. This provides the plant with the moisture it needs to make it through an entire hot day. Avoid watering the plant during late afternoon or evening.
- Mulch the soil five weeks after transplanting the seedlings to retain moisture present in soil and to control weeds. Mulch also keeps the soil from the splashing of the lower tomato leaves.
- To help tomatoes grow properly through periods of drought, find few flat rocks and place the rocks one next to each plant. The rocks will prevent the evaporation of water from the soil.
- Supply the plants with fertilizer or compost every two weeks starting from the point when the tomato fruits are nearly about 1 inch in diameter.
- If you are using stakes, prune plants by pinching off suckers (side stems). Ensuring that only a few branches are growing from each plant. The suckers usually grow between the branches and the main stem.
- Tie the developing stems to stakes with thread or soft string.
- As the plants thrive, cut all the leaves off the bottom 12 inches from the stem. Splashes from rainwater may result in the transfer of diseases from soil to the foliage. Trimming the lower leaves helps in preventing this.
- Practice crop rotation every year to prevent the spread of diseases and to maintain soil fertility.
Tomatoes are most susceptible to insect pests, especially whiteflies and tomato hornworms.
Late Blight is a type of fungal disease that usually strikes during any time of the growing seasons. It causes grey, moldy spots on fruits and leaves which later turn brownish. The disease spreads and is supported by continuous damp weather. This disease will run until winter, so make sure to destroy all infected plants.
Mosaic Virus causes distortion of leaves and causing the growth of young plants to be twisted and narrow. The leaves also become yellow. Unfortunately, all the plants infected should be destroyed (don’t put them in your compost pile).
Cracking: When the fruit growth is very rapid, the skin will eventually crack. This mostly occurs because of uneven watering or uneven moisture received from weather conditions (very rainy periods mixed along with dry periods). Keep the moisture levels constant with mulching and consistent watering.
6) How To Harvest Tomatoes
- Leave your tomatoes on the vines as long as you can. If any of the tomatoes fall off the plant before they appear ripe, place the tomatoes in a paper bag with the stem up and store them in a dark, cold place.
- Never keep the tomatoes on a sunny windowsill to ripen. The tomatoes may rot even before they are ripe!
- The perfect tomato for picking will be very red in color and firm, irrespective of the size, with perhaps some remaining yellow around the stem. If you grow yellow, orange or any other color tomato, wait until the tomato turns to the correct color.
- If your tomato plant bears fruit when the first hard frost threatens, pull up the entire plant from the soil. Now, hang the plant upside down in the garage or basement. Pick tomatoes as soon as they ripen.
- Do not refrigerate fresh tomatoes. Doing so will spoil the texture and flavor and texture.
Tomatoes grow well in all sizes, from the very small “currant” to “cherry” to the large “beefsteak.” There are thousands of different tomato varieties to suit different tastes and climate. Here are a few of them:
Early Varieties (60 or lesser days to harvest)
- ‘Early Cascade’: Large fruit clusters, trailing plant
- ‘Early Girl’: One of the earliest producing tomatoes, produces throughout the summer
Mid-season Varieties (65 to 80 days to harvest)
- ‘Floramerica’: Deep red flesh, firm, strong plant
- ‘Fantastic’: Heavy yields, meaty rich flavor, crack resistant
Late-season Varieties (80 or more days to harvest)
- ‘Amish Paste’: Heavy yields, large paste tomatoes, good slicers,
- ‘Brandywine’: A beefsteak with just the perfect acid-sweet combination, many different variants are available
- ‘Matt’s Wild Cherry’: Foolproof in any climate, bright red tomatoes, bears abundant fruits in high or low temperature and in drought or rain
- ‘Sun Gold’: Huge clusters, golden-orange tomatoes, very sweet yet tart flavor