How to Grow Tomatoes at Home
I love to grow tomatoes and I have been growing them for over thirty years. Today I am sharing how to grow tomatoes at home.
There’s nothing like a fresh, homegrown tomato. It’s surprisingly easy to grow them at home – even if you don’t have a lot of land. So read on for everything you need to know about growing your own tomatoes!
Tomatoes are one of the few things that taste 1000 times better when you grow them yourself. I don’t know why this is the case, but it is so true! I cannot wait to share how to grow tomatoes at your home. Once you grow them, you will love it!
Why You Should Grow Tomatoes at Home
Homegrown tomatoes are the best. They are easy to grow, taste amazing and can be used in a ton of recipes.
I often refer to my tomatoes not as farm to table, but rather as farm to mouth. I love popping cherry tomatoes in my mouth straight from the garden. Of course I use them on charcuterie boards, in spaghetti sauce, in tomato soup and more.
Often I am in the kitchen panicking that I have nothing to cook for dinner. That’s when I remember I have tons of fresh tomatoes.
I made these raised vegetable beds five years ago. To learn how to make them, go to my blog post titled How to Build Raised Vegetable Beds.
I love that I bought these tomato plants a few weeks ago and I already have lots of tomatoes on the vines.
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Prepare for Planting the Tomatoes
You can plant tomatoes directly in the ground, in pots, or in raised vegetable beds. The most important thing is that they get lots of sun. Tomatoes need at least six to eight hours a day of sun.
Soil amendment is a really important part of preparing the garden for planting. Every year I dig up my soil and turn it. I also add three bags of Amend garden soil to mix with the soil.
Amend promotes the growth of vegetables and flowers as well as bedding plants and ground cover. It also:
- Softens hard clay soil
- Enriched with plant food and gypsum
- Improves soil drainage
I have automatic sprinklers in all of my raised planters so I also check to make sure the sprinklers are all working correctly.
Planting Tomatoes With Eggshells
There are several amendment components that are critical for vegetable gardening and calcium specifically is an important component for growing tomatoes. Calcium enhances pollen germination and it is important for the formation of roots, stems, and support of the new growth in the plant. Most importantly it helps prevent blossom end rot.
Without calcium, tomato plants can suffer in a number of ways.
Burying eggshells with your tomato plants helps provide optimum drainage, aerates the soil, and provides a slow-release of calcium which helps make the soil more porous, improves soil drainage, and protects against blossom end rot.
I saved egg shells for a couple of weeks and cleaned them and baked them in the oven. Then I put the shells in the food processor. And ground them as small as I could!
The pulverized egg shells are great calcium for the tomatoes. Just drop a few teaspoons in each hole before planting.
Select Your Tomato Plants
Which tomatoes should you buy? That depends on which tomatoes you like to eat.
I always plant a variety but I always get some hearty tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, and some fun and exotic tomatoes. My latest favorites are San Marzano tomatoes. They make the best tomato sauce!
If you love tomatoes and intend to plant a lot of them, plant different varieties that have staggered fruit-bearing dates. This will allow you to enjoy tomatoes all summer long (and not at once)!
I get asked where I buy our tomato plants. I shop at an organic nursery, our local garden shop, and at the Home Depot. It just depends on the inventory and availability.
I will grow tomatoes this year in one and a half of our raised vegetable beds. That is 12 total tomato plants. I bought eight tomato plants to start and hope to plant the last four this weekend.
Frequently Asked Questions
Tomatoes like warm weather and sun. Plant in late spring and early summer. I always use starter plants instead of seeds for easier and faster growing.
Eggshells add extra calcium to plants without affecting the pH. Eggshells will make your tomato plants grow better and prevent blossom end rot.
Plant the Tomato Plants
Plan out the location of your plants first. You are supposed to place your plants 4′ apart in rows of 5-6 feet apart. I don’t block out that much space. (I cheat a little bit). Be sure to plan for growth as tomato plants can get very large!
Dig a hole about the same size of the root base and soil. Gently remove any growth down near the base of the plant. Sprinkle in the pulverized egg shells and add additional amendments (such as Epson salt and Fish fertilizer).
Add the plant and cover with soil.
Make Your Own Tomato Cages
Immediately add supports for your tomato plants.
I love wooden tomato cages. I made some with my boys and the complete tutorial can be found in my blog post How to Make Tomato Cages.
The light-colored tomato cages you see below are exactly a year old and have been sitting outside. They still look amazing.
Here you can see the “new and improved version” and how it compares to the tomato cages I made five years ago. Of course, I love the grayed and weathered version.
Nine More Gardening Ideas
My 100 Year Old Home | How to Grow Tomatoes at Home
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Twelve on Main | Super Cute DIY Mini Greenhouse
Inspiration for Moms | DIY Planter Trellis
Maison de Cinq | DIY Raised Herb Garden Planter Box
Happy Happy Nester | Lady Banks Rose
The DIY Mommy | Tiered Herb Planter with Dollar Store Buckets
Zevy Joy | Gardening Tips and Ideas From Our New Yard
My Sweet Savannah | DIY modern pedestal planter
Links to the Items Shown in This Post
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I loved this post, and I also loved the video featuring your carpenters assisting with making tomato cages! I want to go buy some power tools now!
Thanks Michelle. My carpenters were so helpful, and cute!
How long do you leave the eggshells in the oven?
At 300 degrees for about 10 minutes. Just enough to dry them out after washing. Happy gardening!
Your garden looks great, this blog has great info on gardening.
Thank you for sharing Heather. I am always looking for great resources!
I’ve grown tomatoes for decades and this is what I’ve learnt in addition to your info.
1. Buy Heirloom Tomatoes. If regular tomatoes are 1000x better than store bought then Heirlooms are a million x better, actually I don’t think you can even compare the taste
2. Lots of manure
3. Plant tomatoes deep. Remove bottom leaves and leave just a few at top and plant in big amended hole right up to the bottom leaves. They grow a ton more roots which of course absorb more nutrients which produce more fruit. If they’re large plants like Leslies then just remove the bottom 2/3 layers of leaves
4. Stake when planting so you don’t injure roots later.
5. To avoid diseases mulch around plants and water only the soil. Soil carries bacteria which when splashes on leaves creates problems
6. I sprinkle a little Epson salt in the hole and the majority on top so they get a little everytime I water (daily)