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How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Tomatoes

How to Grow Tomatoes
Grow tomatoes

Tomatoes are warm-season annuals that grow best when the soil temperature is at least 55°F (12°C) and the air temperature ranges between 65° and 90°F (18-32°C).

Quick Tomato Growing Guide

  • Tomatoes are commonly grown from seedlings started indoors that are later transplanted into the garden.
  • Tomato seeds are commonly planted indoors as early as 8 to 6 weeks before the average date of the last spring frost.
  • Tomato seedlings are usually transplanted into the garden 1 to 3 weeks after the last frost. If an unexpected frost threatens, transplants must be covered and protected.
  • Early-season tomatoes require 50 to 60 days to reach harvest from transplanting; mid-season tomatoes require 60 to 80 days; late-season tomatoes require 80 or more days.
  • In hot summer-mild winter regions such as USDA zone 10 or warmer, tomatoes can be grown as a fall and winter crop.
Cherry tomato plant in containers
Cherry and dwarf tomatoes are ideal for container growing.

Types of Tomatoes

Bush and Dwarf Tomatoes

  • Bush or determinate tomatoes grow from 2 to 4 feet (.6-1.2m) tall. Dwarf tomatoes grow to about 2 feet (.6m) tall.
  • Bush or determinate tomato varieties and dwarf varieties require the least amount of space.
  • They can be grown in a small-sized garden requiring just a square foot or two of space or in a container with just 2 to three 3 square feet (.9m) of soil.
  • When the determinate tomato flowers the plant stops growing. Flowers and fruits appear at the end of stems.
  • The fruit grows and ripens usually all at once over a four- to six-week period.

Vining Tomatoes

  • Vining or indeterminate tomatoes can grow 6 feet tall (1.8m) or more.
  • Indeterminate tomatoes require 3 to 4 square feet of space.
  • Vining tomatoes produce a succession of flowers along the branching spurs; fruit forms from those blossoms.
  • Indeterminate tomatoes will grow almost indefinitely if not pruned or stopped by frost.
  • Most indeterminate tomato varieties require staking or caging.
  • Vining tomatoes can be left to sprawl on the ground but fruit may become susceptible to diseases and be more difficult to find and pick at harvest time.

Other Tomato Classifications

  • Fruit size and shape: Besides being bush or vine-like, tomatoes are further classified by the size and shape of their fruit: currant (the smallest), cherry, plum, pear, heart-shaped, oblong, oblate, round, and large or beefsteak.
  • Color: Tomatoes are also classified by their color: red, pink, orange, yellow, cream, white, green, purple, brown, black, zebra-striped, and swirled multi-colors.
Tomato seedlings
Start tomato seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before transplanting.

Planting Tomatoes

Starting Tomato Seeds Indoors

  • Start tomato seeds indoors about 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost in spring. (Transplant tomato seedlings to the garden just after the last frost in spring.)
  • Sow tomatoes in individual pots with a light potting mix. Pots should have drain holes in the bottom.
  • Sow two to three seeds ½ inch deep and 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart in a small pot or flat.
  • Germination soil temperature can range between 65-86°F (18-30°C); the optimum soil temperature for germinating seed is 86°F (30°C).
  • Seeds can be started in a bright window or under fluorescent lights set about 2 inches (5 cm) above the plants.
  • Keep seed starting mix just moist until seeds germinate.
  • Germination takes 5 to 7 days at 75°F (24°C) or warmer.
  • Clip away the weaker seedlings once the strongest seedling is about 2 inches (5 cm) tall.
  • Grow young seedlings on at 60° to 70°F (15-21°C); allow a gentle breeze from a fan to rustle over young seedlings each day so that they grow strong stems.
  • About two weeks after germination seedlings can be transferred to larger 4-inch (10cm) pots; be careful not to disturb the roots. This is called potting up.
  • More seed starting tips at Tomato Seed Starting Tips.

Transplanting Tomato Seedling to the Garden

  • Garden soil is usually warm enough for tomato transplants about 2 to 3 weeks after the last frost in spring.
  • Tomato seedlings can be transplanted into the garden when the outdoor soil temperature is at least 55°F (13°C) and the nighttime air temperatures are consistently 50°F (10°C) or warmer.
  • Set young plants out protected from direct sun during the day for two weeks to harden off and acclimatize before transplanting. This is called hardening off.
  • Plants will not thrive in temperatures cooler than 50°F (10°C). If an unexpected frost threatens, transplants must be covered and protected.
  • Set a tomato transplant into the garden deeper than it was growing in its pot. Remove the lower leaves on the stem up to the top two sets of leaves. Bury the stem up to the top two sets of leaves. New roots will grow on the buried stem. Burying stems at transplanting will make for sturdier plants.
  • Water newly transplanted seedlings. Give transplants a B-1 solution to guard against transplant shock.

Spacing Plants in the Garden

  • Plant bush tomato varieties 24 inches (61cm) apart. Plant vining varieties 36 to 48 inches (91-122cm) apart.
Tomato planting in rows
Tomatoes require warm, well-drained but moisture-retentive soil rich in organic matter. Tomatoes will produce earlier in light, sandy soil, but the yield will be greater in heavy, loamy soil.

Planting Site

  • Grow tomatoes in full sun, at least 8 hours of sun each day.
  • Prepare planting beds by adding 2 to 4 inches (5-10cm) of aged compost or commercial organic planting mix before transplanting. Turn the soil to at least 12 inches (30cm) deep before planting.
  • Tomatoes require warm, well-drained but moisture-retentive soil rich in organic matter. Tomatoes will produce earlier in light, sandy soil, but the yield will be greater in a loamy soil.
  • Tomatoes prefer a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8.
  • Planted in containers tomatoes require the most soil you can provide–a large container–and good drainage.

Companion Plants for Tomatoes

Grow tomatoes close to basil, chives, asparagus, carrots, marigolds, nasturtiums, onions, and parsley. These plants will repel insects that attack tomatoes.

Container Growing Tomatoes

  • Small determinate varieties are easily grown in 5-gallon (19 liters) containers. Grow indeterminate tomatoes in 10 to 15-gallon (38-57 liter) containers.
  • Place the container where tomatoes get 8 hours of sunlight each day.
  • Provide a stake, cage, or trellis for support at planting to avoid the risk of damaging the growing root later on.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist. The soil in containers can dry quickly in hot weather.
  • Move tomatoes in containers indoors if frost threatens. Tomatoes can be grown in containers through the winter indoors.

More tips on growing tomatoes in containers: Growing Tomatoes in Containers.

Watering tomatoes
Side dress tomatoes with dilute fish emulsion or kelp meal every 3 to 4 weeks. Add aged compost around plants at mid-season.

Watering and Feeding Tomatoes

  • Tomatoes require regular even watering. Keep the soil moist but not wet.
  • Water deeply. Water thoroughly before the soil dries out.
  • Water at the base of the stem; avoid wetting leaves.
  • Leaves may curl on hot days; this is a way for plants to conserve moisture and is not necessarily a sign of distress. If leaves wilt in the morning, tomatoes need an immediate slow, deep watering.
  • Mulch with straw or aged compost around plants to prevent soil moisture evaporation.
  • Side dress tomatoes with dilute fish emulsion or kelp meal every 3 to 4 weeks. Add aged compost around plants at midseason.
  • Blossom-end rot can be the result of uneven watering or a lack of calcium in the soil. Crushed eggshells added to spot watering every two weeks can provide the calcium needed.
  • Compost tea applied every two weeks will provide nitrogen and other nutrients needed.
  • More care details: Feeding Tomatoes and Fertilizer for Tomatoes.

 Supporting Tomatoes

  • Cages, stakes, and trellises can be used to support tomato plants. Supports will keep leaves and fruits off the ground. Tomatoes that sprawl across the ground will be susceptible to disease and insect pests.
  • Stakes can be used to train tomatoes upwards. Staked tomatoes are commonly pruned to one or two main stems (called leaders) which are trained up by tying the stem to the stake with elastic horticultural tape.
  • Trellises can be used to support tomatoes. Fashion a trellis out of 6 by 6 inch (15cm) galvanized mesh. Stretch the mesh between two stakes set about 8 feet (2.4m) apart. Tie off the vines as they grow up, similar to staked plants.
Staking tomatoes
Set stakes at the time of transplanting. Tie stems to stakes with elastic horticulture tape or garden twine.

 Staking Tomatoes

  • A staked tomato requires the least amount of growing space.
  • Stake tomatoes with 6-foot (1.8m) stakes. Set stakes at the time of transplanting.
  • Tie stems to stakes with elastic horticulture tape or garden twine.
  • Staked tomatoes are best pruned so that they grow on a straight stem against the stake.
  • Prune staked tomatoes to one or two stems by pinching out the growing tip of each side branch after it has sprouted at least two leaves.
  • To prune to more than one main stem, choose the stems you want to keep and pinch out the rest.
  • Do not pinch back side shoots until two leaf sets develop; this will provide foliage cover from sunburn for fruits and stems later.
  • Note that pruning will reduce the total crop and is likely to increase the incidence of blossom-end rot.
  • More tomato pruning tips: How to Prune a Tomato.

Caging Tomatoes

  • Use tomato cages to support upward growth.
  • Use an 18-inch/46 cm-diameter cage for small, bush tomatoes.
  • Use a 24-inch/61 cm-diameter cage to support large, vining tomatoes.
  • Round or square cages can be bought ready-made; square cages are easily folded and stored.
  • To make your own cage use 6 by 6 inch (15×15 cm) mesh reinforcing wire. A five-foot (1.5m) width cut five feet long and bent into a cylinder and tied off will support a six-foot-tall (1.8m) tomato plant. Remove the bottom horizontal wire and push the cage into the ground six inches deep surrounding the tomato plant. Add a supporting stake in windy areas.
  • Cages are commonly set in place when a plant is young so that it can grow up and into the cage. Caging, like staking, allows tomatoes to be grown in tight spaces, the fruit is kept up off of the ground and open to air circulation.
  • Caged tomatoes may or may not require pruning.
Protect tomatoes from cold
Early in the season protect young tomatoes from cold and frost under plastic tunnels.

Maintaining Tomatoes

  • Mulch around the base of tomatoes with aged compost to slow soil moisture evaporation.
  • For stronger plants and bigger fruit, pinch out all suckers that start to grow in the crotch of the main stem and side branches. Root the suckers in a starting mix to start a second crop for succession planting.
  • As plants grow tall, remove leaves and branches from the bottom 12 inches (30cm) of the plant; this will help prevent the spread of soil-borne diseases.
  • Night temperatures colder than 55°F (13°C) or day temperatures above 95°F (35°C) will keep flowers from setting fruit. Protect plants under a plastic tunnel or floating row cover.

Tomato Pests and Diseases

Tomato hornworm is a common tomato pest.
A tomato hornworm can defoliate a plant in a day.

Tomato Pests

Here are common insect pests which attack tomatoes (go the Index to find additional articles about these pests):

  • Cutworms live in the soil and attack seedling; place paper collars around seedlings.
  • Aphids: suck plant juices leaving plants weak; knock them off plants with a strong spray of water.
  • Whiteflies spray with insecticidal soap.
  • Tomato hornworms are large green caterpillars that can defoliate a plant; handpick and destroy or spray with spinosad.
  • Tomato fruitworms bore into fruits; spray with insecticidal soap or Bacillus thuringiensis.
Tomato blight disease
Tomato blight is a fungal disease that begins with the yellowing and dieback of lower leaves.

Tomato Diseases

Tomatoes are susceptible to fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases. Disease control can be difficult. Disease prevention is the best course of action. To stave off disease plant disease-resistant varieties and keep the garden clean and free of debris.

  • Verticillium and fusarium wilt are fungal diseases that cause tomato plants to suddenly wilt, turn brown, and sometimes die. These diseases brought on by wet weather or overhead watering.
  • Early blight and late blight are fungal diseases. These diseases usually strike during warm, humid, or wet weather, Yellowing of lower leaves and the discoloration of stems is a sign of blight. See also How to Identify Early Blight, Late Blight and Leaf Spot.
  • Bacterial diseases are marked by black spots or specks on leaves or the black discoloration of stems.
  • Mosaic virus or herbicide injury can cause tomato leaves to grow distorted, twisted, and stunted. Tomatoes are a relative of tobacco and can be attacked by tobacco plant diseases such as tobacco mosaic virus; wash your hands thoroughly before working with tomato plants if you smoke.
  • Remove diseased plants from the garden immediately before the disease can spread.
  • Grow disease-resistant varieties. Disease resistant varieties are identified by a letter code which will be found on seed packets or transplant identification stakes: “V” (verticillium wilt), “F” (fusarium wilt), “N” (nematodes–microorganisms that cause root cankers); and “T” (tobacco mosaic virus).
  • Blossom-end rot or rotting at the blossom or bottom end of the fruit is caused by fluctuations in soil moisture and the insufficient uptake of calcium from the soil. To control blossom end rot, water regularly and add crushed eggshells to the soil or an organic fertilizer than includes calcium.
  • Cracking fruit is caused by the uneven uptake of water—when the soil goes dry, then wet, then dry. Keep the soil evenly moist to avoid fruit cracking.
  • Trouble-shoot tomato pest and disease problems by going to this article: Tomato Growing Problems and How to Prevent Tomato Blossom Drop.

Harvesting Tomatoes

Tomato Harvest Time

Tomatoes also can be classified by when they come to harvest:

  • Early season: require 40 to 60 days to reach harvest from transplanting.
  • Midseason: require 60 to 80 days to reach harvest from transplanting.
  • Late season: require 80 or more days to reach harvest from transplanting.
  • For a long harvest plant early, mid-season, and late-season tomatoes at the same time in spring or early summer.
  • Some tomatoes are picked green and ripened indoors. ‘Mature green’ tomatoes have reached full size and are just beginning to turn color. They can be ripened on the kitchen counter indoors.
Tomato harvest
A tomato is ripe and ready for harvest when the skin turns glossy.

Tomato Harvest Tips

  • Note on a calendar when you plant then count ahead of the number of days to maturity to know when harvest will begin.
  • Allow tomatoes to ripen on the vine when possible.
  • A tomato will be ripe when its skin turns from dull to glossy.
  • Tomatoes that have begun to turn color will ripen off the vine. Place them in a cool place out of the direct sun with the stem end up.
  • Harvest tomatoes before the first frost; you can lift whole plants and hang them upside down in a shed or garage to ripen.

Tomato Yield Tips

Plant 1 to 4 tomato plants for each household member. Consider the variety and how the tomato will be used: eating fresh, cooking, canning, or preserving. If possible, plant both early and late cultivars and determinate and indeterminate tomatoes to allow for a staggered and continuous harvest. Double the number of plants if you plan to crush the fruit for juice.

Freeze tomatoes
Slice and freeze tomatoes for later use. The flavor will not be lost.

Storing and Preserving Tomatoes

Beefsteak tomatoes
Beefsteak tomatoes

How to Choose the Right Tomato

  • There are thousands of varieties of tomatoes; several hundred named varieties are readily available as seed or starts.
  • Choose tomatoes for fresh eating, cooking, canning, preserving, or drying.
  • Choose beefsteak and slicing tomatoes or cherry or miniature tomatoes for fresh eating.
  • Choose standard or globe-shaped tomatoes for canning.
  • Choose paste tomatoes for cooking.
  • Choose a tomato to fit the length of your growing season: early (50 to 60 days), main crop (70 to 85 days), or late harvest (85 days or more).
  • Choose a bush or determinate tomato for a small garden or container or a short harvest.
  • Choose a vining or indeterminate tomato for caging and long harvest.
  • Here are more great tomatoes varieties for your garden: Tomatoes to Grow for Flavor.
Black tomatoes
Kumato: black tomatoes

About Tomatoes

  • The tomato is a tender subtropical perennial grown as annual.
  • Tomatoes are native to southern Mexico.
  • Tomatoes are weak-stemmed with vining or sprawling habits depending upon the variety. Tomatoes have alternate lobed and toothed leaves.
  • Yellow flowers grow in clusters either along stems or at the end of stems.
  • Depending on the variety, fruits vary in size from marble-sized to apple-sized and in color from red to yellow to orange to white. Some tomatoes may be green or purple-black.
  • Botanical name: Lycopersicon esculentum

Want to see all of the tomato tips? Go to the Tomato category.

Need help? How to Choose a Tomato for Your Garden.

Want to be a tomato expert? Read up on Tomato Vocabulary: Types, Descriptions, and Names.


Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.


Comments are closed.
  1. Hi there… thanks for all the info. I’m trying a bunch of varieties this year and didnt realize that they require unique care.
    Id like to make a recommendation for your readers regarding staking/supporting your tomatoes.. The best product I have used is The Tomato Stake.
    Its made of recycleable plastic and much stronger and easier to use than those metal cages.

  2. Is it alright to grow tomatos in the same location in successive years if you ammend the soil and had no disease problems in that location.
    Thank you for you advice.

  3. Hi Beth: Crop rotation is a good practice–even in very small gardens (See the article on Vegetable Crop Rotation). But the short answer to your question is: Yes. If there is no evidence of soil-borne pests or diseases in the spot where you grew a tomato plant last year or years past, you can plant a tomato there again this year. But, do this year’s crop a favor, and amend the planting bed with well-aged compost and cow manure in advance of planting. Tomatoes are heavy feeders; they draw a host of nutrients from the soil. A good practice when planting tomato starts is to dig a hole the size of a two-gallon bucket and put a layer of compost or well-rotted manure with a handful of bonemeal and 1 teaspoon of Epsom salts (aids the plant in the uptake of calcium) in the bottom of the hole. Set your tomato start in the hole clipping off lower leaves with scissors first until the top two sets of leaves or about 4 inches of plant is above the soil.

  4. Last Year I had the worst tomato crop ever. The vines grew huge but fruit never developed. I did everything I normally did except used 10-10-10 as fertilizer instead of Miracle Grow. Was that my problem?

    • Feed tomatoes with a fertilizer low in nitrogen and higher in phosphorus and potassium–such as 5-10-10. Nitrogen promotes leafy growth; phosphorus and potassium promote root and fruit growth.

  5. Hello,
    I recently started growing tomatoes a couple of weeks ago, but the progress seems to be relatively limited. Is there any way to stimulate and speed up the process? I’ve already tried fertilizers.

    • Before you give your seedlings a dose of compost tea (the best fertilizer for young plants) check the soil temperature. Tomato seedlings will not take root and thrive until the soil temperature is at least 55F and closer to 70F is best. As well nighttime air temperatures should be above 55F and closer to 65F is best. Don’t expect young plants to thrive until the temperatures are right for growth. You can place a tomato cage over the seedlings and wrap it with clear plastic to create a mini-greenhouse and warm temperatures around the plants.

  6. The upper leaves on my plants are curled and the stems are very thin. I suspect I may have herbicide damage, (I have a lawn service). I gave the plants a dose of miracle grow about three days ago from this mailing to possibly help them recover, however, heavy rains several hours later may have washed it out. Would it be harmful to give them another dose this soon? I am trying to help them recover. Is them a suggestion you may offer to get past this.

    Thanks, Rich N.

    • Tomato plants hit by herbicide drift may or may not recover depending on the extent of their exposure. One dose of Miracle Grow fertilizer is enough; don’t give the plants a second feeding now. The Miracle Grow you used was likely granules and these are either time-release or water soluble and the fertilizer will stay in the soil for several weeks–even when hit by rain. More fertilizer now will only stress the plants more. Wait and let time tell you if the plants will recover. To be safe, you may want to pick up another tomato at the garden center.

    • Peppers are native to Mexico. Sweet potatoes originated in tropical regions of Africa and Asia. In tropical regions peppers and sweet potatoes are perennials that can live for several years. Both peppers and sweet potatoes can be killed by frost and freezing weather, so in temperate regions of the world both are grown as annuals.

  7. I read your list of late season tomato varieties that you suggest (I guess) to plant. On your list you have a He Man variety that I have been looking for my father. We used to live in Arkansas and that’s a variety that’s planted down there quite prevalently, however we haven’t been able to find them anymore. It has been30 years since that time and we can’t remember which seed company produced the seeds. Do you know who/where I can find this particular variety? Thanks in advance.

    • Like many old-time tomato varieties He Man does not seem to be offered by seed growers now. Check with the master gardeners or the cooperative extension near where you live to see if any tomato growers may have saved the seeds and can pass them on to you. Also send a query to heirloom seed gowers such a Baker Seeds, Territorial Seeds, and Eden Brothers. Ask if they know of any growers or gardeners growing He Man.

  8. Thanks for your response. I will check where you listed as well as with the many seed co’s in the country. I appreciate the help and if I find them, then I will post it for others to see, sincerely Jeff.

  9. I transplanted my tomato plants without adding any compost in the soil. I planted them by removing the leaves other than the top sets of leaves. What should I add now to them for getting a good harvest?

    • Feed your tomatoes with a dilute solution of fish emulsion or seaweed kelp every 10 days. These natural fertilizers will give your plants a boost. An alternative is to side-dress the plants with an organic 5-10-10 fertilizer–that is low in nitrogen, higher in phosphorus for fruit development.

  10. I have been looking into tomato 🍅 flavors. A question that interest me is, besides the variety, can micronutrients influence the tomato flavor? I think that I understand that variety has a great deal to do with the fruits acid or even sweetness. But, besides the basics of the plants genetics, can we increase or even decrease this plants sweetness using nutrients?

  11. sir, my tomato plants are 5 feet high. they do not have much amount of leaves. some of them flowered. but the flowers fell down after two days. when will it give fruits? is there any problem with my plants?

    • Your tomato plants will not produce fruit unless they the flowers are pollinated. The tomato is self-pollinating. To help the plant drop pollen from the male to female parts of the flowers, give the plant a gentle shake when it flowers. Plants will drop flowers if the weather is chilly (below 55F) or too hot (warmer than 90F). Side dress your plants with a 5-10-10 fertilizer; higher phosphorus will help the plants to flower.

    • Lower leaves on the tomato plant are the oldest leaves on the plant. When they turn yellow and brown, it may simply be a sign of age and the coming end of the season. It also can be a sign of early or late blight, fungal diseases. You can simply trim off the leaves and dispose of them if it is nearly the end of the season where you are. If it is early or mid season in your part of the world you can spray the plants with an anti-fungal spray–a sulfur or copper spray or 1 tablespoon of baking soda plus 2.5 tablespoons of vegetable oil plus a teaspoon of liquid soap (not detergent) to a gallon of water; use a spray bottle to spray all sides of the leaves, stems, and fruits. You should see a slowing of the disease progression in 2 days.

    • First, estimate how many days you have left in the growing season. If it is early in the season where you live then side dress the plants with a high phosphorus fertilizer; look for an organic bloom booster fertilizer. If you have only 30 to 60 days left in your season (until the first frost comes), then it is likely too late for your plants to produce fruit. Again, you can give the plants a phosphorus rich fertilizer but there simply may not be enough days left for the plants to flower and set fruit. Next season, make sure that you use a low nitrogen fertilizer when feeding the tomatoes and put a half handful of bone meal in the bottom of each planting hole at planting time.

    • Large tomato cages can be purchased and set in place early in the season. Late in the season, if a cage is not in place, you can put three large plant stakes around the plant to form a triangle. Then run elastic horticultural tape or garden twine between the stakes at about 1 foot intervals to draw the plant inward and upward. If you have a row of tomato plants you want to support, place a line of stakes on either side of the row and run the twine or tape between the stakes drawing the plants inward and upward.

  12. I am starting a large garden in Baguio City, Philippines… The weather ranges from a low of 55 to a high of 85… It is near equatorial, so the days are 10-14 hours long… But due to our nearly mile high location, and the ocean all around, we range from 65-95% humidity, and lots of rain during the 4-6 month rainy period. The soil is very fertile, with a high amount of organic materials. What sorts of open pollination tomatoes would you recommend? They only have two varieties here, so I plan to get while I am in the USA… Neither variety has good size or production.

    • Tomato varieties that should grow well in the Philippines are hybrids including ‘Better Boy’, ‘Celebrity’, and ‘Amelia’. Recommended heirloom varieties include ‘Cherokee Purple’, ‘Green Zebra’, ‘Pink Brandywine’, ‘Prudens Purples, ‘San Marzano’ and ‘Mortgage Lifter’. Look for varieties that are resistant to fungal diseases including v
      In the hotter months of the year grow heat-tolerant cultivars including ‘Heat Wave II’ and ‘Heatmaster’. Most cherry tomatoes will also set fruit in the heat, including the variety ‘Sweet 100’.

  13. I am a first time Gardner after retiring. Gosh, I learned so much from this article and the comments of your readers.
    I have blossom rot on my first 2 tomatoes so I will get those crushed egg shells to help.
    I need to read further about “determinate” and “indeterminate” varieties. All mine are “indeterminate” so Are my 5 gallon container the wrong habitat for them?
    I just bought a “Moisture Meter” because the “finger test” method only addresss the first few inches of soil moisture. The “Moisture Meter” shows that the deeper parts of the 5 gallon pot are moist. I live in West Tx with 10+ hours of hot sun, but at 6300 feet so rarely above 88oF. Should I trust the moisture meter?

    • Early season tomatoes often suffer blossom end rot; usually, because the soil has not warmed and the plant has trouble drawing up all the nutrients. Get a good tomato food at the garden center–one that contains calcium and magnesium; this should help. A 5-gallon container is likely too small for a full-size indeterminate (vining tomato)–but the right size for a determinate tomato. As you tomatoes grow you will need to ensure that the upper growth and fruit do not tip your 5-gallon containers. Seven or 10-gallon containers would be a better choice for indeterminate tomatoes.

  14. Hi,
    I started off by planting tomato seeds in small pots and polybags. They grew well. Once they reached a height of about 6 inches I transplanted into the ground taking care not to damage the roots. But few days after transplantting all wilted and died. Why? Could it be due to too much water?

    • There are several reasons a seedling can fail: too much or too little water, day temperatures too hot–sun too intense, night temperatures too chilly, too much nitrogen in the soil–these are the most likely. You have to be a bit of detective to figure these things out. Plants are easily stressed when they are young. Next time pot them up into gallon and then two-gallon containers before setting them in the garden. That way the roots will be well established.

    • Tomatoes can be transplanted to the garden about two weeks after the last frost; seedlings after that time can be moved with then are 4 to 6 inches tall.

    • You can water tomatoes and seedlings with tap water unless you suspect there are additives in the water system that would be detrimental to plants.

  15. Please am an undergraduate student doing my project on Tomato. I have planted the seed last two days but still confuse on how to water it, please help me sir.

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