How to Grow the Best Tomato Plants Ever
For years I have grown tomatoes and have had a lot of success. Today I am sharing tips so you can grow the best tomato plants ever.
There are a lot of factors that can affect how well your tomato plants grow. Things like soil prep, amendments, and planting. With just a few suggestions you can grow the best-tasting tomato plants ever!
Growing Tomato Plants
There are a few things in life that when you make (or grow them) yourself, are always better.
Homegrown tomatoes are definitely one of those things. I think that store-bought tomatoes, a.k.a. tomatoes that are picked too early, just don’t get enough “vine time” and don’t have that amazing taste of a well-ripened tomato.
I often refer to my tomato garden as a “farm to mouth” garden because rarely does a cherry tomato ever make it into our house. Rather, I pop one (or two) in my mouth every time I walk past my raised vegetable beds. The taste of these tomatoes is pure pleasure and the sweet flavor reminds me of summertime with every bite.
I have grown my own tomatoes for years and I hope you will seriously consider growing your own tomatoes. I think these tips might help.
Choosing the Right Tomatoes to Grow
Tomato plants are for sale just about anywhere. The most important thing is to buy them from a reputable grower. Heirloom tomatoes are my favorite to buy and I love adding some unknown varietals every year. I promise to let you know how my Candy Cane Striped tomatoes taste this year!
So what types of tomatoes should you buy? You’ll want to choose determinate varieties such as Rutgers, Roma, Celebrity, Juliet, Beefsteak, Brandywine, Goldie, most varieties of Cherry tomatoes, and heirloom tomatoes. Grow your tomato plants in as large of a container as possible, for the biggest and most tomatoes ever!
For beginners, cherry tomatoes are the easiest tomatoes to grow because they taste great, produce lots of crops, and usually have very few problems.
Location – Plant in Full Sun
Tomatoes love the sunshine so placing your tomato plants in full sun (an average of at least eight hours a day) gives the best results. However, the hours of sunlight do not need to be consecutive.
Tomatoes thrive in full sun and fertile, well-drained, slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8.
Tomatoes love warm soil temperatures which are why growing tomatoes in raised beds is a great idea. The soil in raised beds warms up faster than underground soil, which helps tomatoes grow better.
Your raised beds only need to be 12″ deep for tomato plants. My beds are 22″ deep but only have about 16″ – 18″ of soil in them.
Of course, you can also grow tomatoes directly in your garden or in large pots.
Soil Prep and Amendments
Every year I amend the soil in my garden before I plant my tomato plants. This year I added Glee Potting Mix because when I added it to my Cutting Garden Beds the flowers grew like crazy! You should add about four inches of an amendment into your soil and mix thoroughly. Don’t just add it on top!
There are also a lot of fertilizers you can add to the soil when planting. I have used Epsom salt, baking soda, coffee grinds, and egg shells to help my tomato plants grow stronger and fuller.
I always add two tablespoons of Epsom salt to the soil below my plants to allow for better root and cell development, photosynthesis, and plant growth.
A lot of my gardening friends add baking soda to their tomato plants to prevent late blight from growing on your plants. To make a baking soda solution, mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda, 3 drops of dish soap, and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a gallon of water. Spray the mixture on your plants.
Mix some coffee grounds into the soil below your tomato plants to help the growth of your plants. Coffee grounds contain just under 2% nitrogen as well as phosphorus and potassium.
Calcium is important for the development of tomato roots, stems, and new growth, and helps prevent blossom end rot.
Adding eggshells in the soil below your tomato plants helps provide good drainage, aerates the soil, and provides a slow release of calcium which helps make the soil more porous.
I save eggshells for a couple of weeks, clean them, and bake them in the oven. Then I put the shells in the food processor and ground them as small as I can! I keep them on hand (in a sealed bag) to sprinkle in the soil when I plant my tomatoes.
Good Watering System
I love the drip water system we created for my raised gardening beds. The water tubes are carried in through the back side of the raised bed and then laid out in the soil. We have drip spouts (and a couple of low sprinkler attachments) to ensure full water coverage.
Everything is set on a timer so the plants are watered two days a week. (Our city currently restricts watering to two days a week.)
What to Plant With Tomatoes
Did you know you can elevate your tomato growing by using companion plants? Companion plants are plants that are grown next to each other and actually benefit each other. Companion plants may enhance growth, deter pests, attract beneficial insects and pollinators, or prevent disease.
I always plant basil next to my tomato plants because every recipe I make with fresh tomatoes uses basil too! You can also plant onions, carrots, marigolds, beans, nasturtium, parsley, sage, and thyme next to your tomato plants.
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What a Difference a Few Weeks Make …
I am happy to share the growth in my tomato vegetable beds in just a few weeks! I cannot believe how much they have grown.
Look at the raised bed on the left. I took this photo just after I planted the tomato plants. A few weeks later I took the photo on the right. That’s a lot of growth and lots of small tomatoes on my plants!
And … if you want to learn how to make my wooden tomato cages be sure to read tomorrow’s blog post! They are so easy and fun to make.
10 Summer Gardening Ideas
How To Hang Patio Lights // Happy Happy Nester
How To Pull The Yard Together // Finding Lovely
Backyard Deck Decor // Craftberry Bush
How To Make A Stock Tank Garden // Most Lovely Things
How To Arrange Garden Containers // My Sweet Savannah
Clay Herb Garden Markers // Modern Glam
Amazing DIY Strawberry Planter // Twelve On Main
How To Grow The Best Tomato Plants Ever // My 100 Year Old Home
How To Plant Moss Basket Container Garden // Inspiration For Moms
Cheap Simple Front Yard Landscaping Ideas // The Happy Housie
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Thank you for these great tips, Leslie. I totally agree – there is nothing like a homegrown tomato, providing if you like tomatoes to begin with. We always plant WAY to many tomatoes! I usually end up giving many away. I have quite a few great recipes using fresh tomatoes – but if you have any great recipes – would you be willing to share?
Leslie – Such great information on growing tomatoes and so many things I’ve never heard of, like the Espsom salt and baking soda. Your garden looks beautiful with the wood supports too!
Thank you for all these tips Leslie! I love how you did your irrigation system too! Super helpful as we tackle that this weekend.
Your blog today was very helpful!!!
I’m planting tomatoes for the first time. I have a raised garden bed planter.
I thought I would start with cherry tomatoes and basil.
I need to purchase the soil. Could you recommend a certain brand and do I use 2 different kinds? I live is So. Cal so it’s time to plant now, correct? Or is it to late?
There is nothing that compares to homegrown tomatoes. You have great tips! And beautiful photos too. Happy gardening!
Leslie you are a master gardener! Your veggie garden looks amazing! I remember my best garden in Oregon had tomatoes with basil! They definitely love to grow together!
I need to make these trellis!