Tomatoes are a rewarding vegetable to grow at home and an excellent addition to any garden. Below we share the basics of growing tomatoes in a home garden, as well as common mistakes and considerations.
Tomatoes are not a frost tolerant vegetable. This means the best time to plant them is mid to late spring, once there is no longer a chance of frost in your area.
Plant your tomato seeds directly in the soil of your garden or container at a depth of 0.5 inches (1 centimetre). Seeds can be planted outside or you can germinate them indoors and transplant them later. Typically, tomato seeds take about 1 - 2 weeks to fully germinate.
If transplanting, the best time to move tomato plants outside is when they reach 3 - 4 inches (7 - 10 centimetres) tall or have at least 3 - 4 true leaves.
When planting tomatoes in the garden, it’s best to space them 2 - 3 feet (75 centimetres) away from the nearest plant.
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The key to caring for tomatoes in containers is well draining soil and a pot big enough for their root system. Aim for a pot that is roughly 1,155 cubic inches (18,927 cubic centimetres) in size. Five-gallon buckets are a great container option for tomatoes. And they’re cheap too!
For more in depth information, check out our full guide on growing tomatoes in containers.
On average, it takes about 60 - 100 days for planted tomato seeds to develop into a fully mature plant.
Typically, tomato plants reach about 3 - 4 feet (or 1 metre) in height. Though this can fluctuate depending on the variety.
Tomatoes need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day in order to thrive. Be careful to place your plants in an area that receives adequate sunlight. Otherwise, they may not mature properly.
Tomatoes like well draining soil that is kept consistently moist, but not wet or soggy. The amount of water it takes to achieve this effect will differ depending on the type of soil available to you.
Be sure to water your tomatoes on a consistent, steady schedule. This will ensure the plant yields a healthy, uniform crop.
If growing your tomatoes in pots, they will need to be watered more frequently than tomatoes planted directly in the garden.
You will know your tomatoes are in need of more water when their leaves wilt, yellow, and/or the plant begins to droop. But be careful, this can also happen if the plant receives too much water. This is a difficult balance for most novice gardeners. But the more time you spend with your tomatoes, the better you’ll be able to gauge how thirsty they are.
Leaving a short bit of stem attached, cut the tomato from the plant with a sharp knife or scissors. Be careful to avoid pulling them by hand, as this can cause the branches to break.