Ah, home-grown tomatoes. They are one of the most anticipated joys of summer and nothing tastes quite like them! Growing tomatoes can be a little tricky but, easy once all of their requirement are met. We want to show you how to grow tomatoes and keep them producing throughout the season. Tomato plants are the perfect addition to any vegetable garden whether in containers, square foot gardens or the traditional row garden. Follow some basic rules when planting tomatoes and then give them proper care and fertilizer throughout the season and you’ll have abundant and delicious tomatoes to enjoy from your garden!
Soil & How to Plant Tomatoes
A plant is only as good as the soil it’s planted in! When planting tomatoes, plants need well drained, loose, non-compacted soil, preferably fertile, and rich in compost or organic matter. Amend with lime annually to minimize blossom end rot. For growing tomatoes in pots use a high quality, perlite-based potting mix. For planting in the ground, be sure to amend your soil. While planting tomatoes, add a balanced fertilizer and supplemental greensand, then again, top-dressing, mid-season. Learn more about soil options here.
Tomato plants require natural sunlight – the more the better but at least a half day. They will blossom better and more abundantly in fuller sun. No flowers = no fruit!
Provide ample water, but allow plants to somewhat dry out between watering. Avoid prolonged wet feet.
Fertilizing Tomato Plants
Tomatoes are heavy feeders. Provide fertilizer with higher nitrogen content when younger; lower nitrogen, but higher phosphorus, after the onset of blossoms. Tomatoes also benefit from bi-weekly foliage applications of liquid seaweed rich in potassium throughout the growing season to minimize diseases and promote overall vigor. Great fertilizers include: Dr. Earth, Fox Farm, Neptune’s Harvest, Healthy Plant and Espoma. When growing tomatoes in pots or containers, plants may need more frequent fertilizing as nutrients wash away more quickly with container watering.
Surround your garden with lots of summer flowering plants that attract pollinators to ensure fruit pollination, or hand pollinate to increase yields. We recommend the Veggie Bee sonic pollinator for hand pollinating and encouraging mason bees in your garden.
Staking Tomato Plants
Most tomatoes will require staking or caging unless they are a patio type. Indeterminate types will re-quire tall stakes or cages because they fruit for a long period of time. Most tomatoes on the market are indeterminate. Determinate types set their fruit all at once (great for canners) – living a shorter time and can utilize smaller supports. Common determinate varieties include Celebrity and Roma. We have a variety of tomato stakes, cages and towers available at the garden center.
Tips for Growing Tomatoes
- Organic fertilizers feed more readily than heavier synthetics and minimize blossom end rot.
- Supplemental lime will also minimize that blossom end rot.
- University research suggests that red plastic mulches and covers increase yields and allow faster ripening.
Tomato Seeds & Plants
We have a great selection of tomato plants including hybrid varieties, hard to find heirloom tomato plants locally grown right here in Raleigh, and organically grown selections. We even have grafted tomato plants! In addition to our plants we have an extensive selection of tomato seeds as well as seeds for other vegetable plants including a fabulous selection of heirloom seeds and non-GMO seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company.