Planting Your Tomatoes

  • These plants have been growing in a greenhouse. You need to gradually get them used to being outside. Start them in the shade and help them work up to full sun over a 2 week period.
  • Plants should not be planted until nighttime temperatures are at least 55 degrees. If you plant before then, cover them at night. Note- in cool weather tomatoes stop growing.
  • To reduce transplant shock and hasten establishment of seedlings, water well. 
  • Tomatoes need a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sun to grow well. Pick your spot accordingly.
  • Tomatoes love light and air. Planting them too close hinders both. Plant large plant varieties 3’ apart, very large types 4’, and dwarf varieties 18-24”.
  • Plant deep- bury the bottom 2 or 3” of stem when planting (you can remove the bottom leaves). Tomatoes are vines- roots will come out from the sides of the stems if they are buried, making very sturdy plants.

Container Growing

  • General recommendation is to plant one tomato plant per four or five-gallon container
  • Grow containerized tomatoes in artificial potting mix; do not use regular garden topsoil 
  • Most containerized tomato varieties require a stake, trellis or other support.
  • Pay special attention to water and fertilizer needs; container-grown tomato plants have no access to the deep soil reservoir of water and nutrients. Check often to ensure plants are receiving the equivalent of approximately 1” of water a week. 
  • Mulching is not only for plants in the ground; container plants also benefit from mulch. 

Growing Tips

  • Tomatoes need at least 1 inch of water each week either from rainfall or watering 
  • Avoid watering the leaves or splashing soil onto the leaves (to minimize the spread of disease and fungus).
  • Side dress the tomatoes with about 1/2 cup of 5-10-5 fertilizer per plant and work shallowly into the top inch of soil. This should be done when tomato fruits are about 1 inch in diameter and again when the first fruit is harvested.
  • Mulch can help minimize weeds and hold moisture in the soil and modify soil temperatures.
  • Cages or stakes can be used to support the tomato plant as it grows. Supports should be installed early to minimize disrupting plant roots.
  • Practice good hygiene. After using tools, wipe down your hands and pruners with alcohol-soaked wipes to limit the spread of disease. 

Common Tomato Disorders

  • Blossom End Rot – bottom of the fruit darkens and feels leathery. Caused by inconsistent watering
  • Sunscald – white or yellowish spot on the part of the fruit facing the sun. To minimize this problem, never remove mature foliage from the plant.
  • Catfacing – Misshapen fruit, resulting from incomplete pollination of the tomato flower due to cold conditions when flowering. To minimize damage, plant tomatoes after weather warms
  • Fruit Cracking – either concentric cracks around the stem end of the fruit or as radial cracks radiating from the stem scar. Keep soil evenly moist and avoid fluctuating soil moisture conditions.
  • All foliage, no fruit – usually results from too much nitrogen in the soil, heavy rainfalls, or air temperatures too high (>90°F) or too low (<55°F) causing flower abortion. Avoid using fresh manure or fertilizer with a high nitrogen content