Secrets to Success »
Plant tomatoes in full sun (six or more hours of sun per day).
Plant deeply so that two-thirds of the plant is buried, stem and all. It will sprout roots. This makes the plant stronger and more resistant to drought or other challenges.
Fertilize throughout the growing season with an Organic Vegetable Plant Food, which plants love and is good for your soil. Don’t over-fertilize these vigorous vines, though, or you’ll run the risk of getting tall plants with little fruit.
Water regularly. Tomatoes need steady watering to develop to full size and prevent cracking and blossom end rot. To keep the soil moist, mix compost into planting holes, and mulch around the plants after the soil warms. When watering, try to keep the foliage dry. Wet leaves encourage disease.
Support vigorous vines with 8-foot stakes, tall trellis, or sturdy wire cage. Keeping vines off of the ground makes it easier to harvest, keeps fruit clean, and helps prevent disease. You may need to tie individual stems to the cage or a stake as they weigh down with the fruit.
Harvest and Use »
When tomatoes start turning from green to red, keep an eye on them. You can pick once shoulders or tops of fruit start blushing red and let them ripen off the vine, or wait to pick the reddest vine-ripe tomatoes to can, cook sauce or paste, or slow roast. Pick vine-ripe tomatoes to slice on a plate, chop in a salad, or enjoy on a sandwich.
The red tomato is considered a “superfood” for its wealth of vitamins and antioxidants, including cancer-fighting lycopene.
For home canning, pick tomatoes on the day you plan to can, if possible. This ensures freshest flavor for your efforts.
Try These Garden Companions »
Cilantro, peppers, and onions—all the ingredients you need for creating garden fresh salsa.
Sweet basil for tomato-and-basil salad or sandwich.
Parsley, rosemary, and oregano for continental cuisine.
Black Krim, Cherokee Purple or Kellogg’s Breakfast, for diverse tomato colors and flavors.
Mortgage Lifter, Cherokee Purple or Brandywine for big heirloom tomatoes
Matt’s Wild Cherry, Sungold, Sun Sugar or any cherry tomato, which bears all season.
Sweet Basil, Onion, Bell Pepper, and Oregano for a delicious tomato sauce.