Tomatoes are a popular plant among home gardeners. The vegetable is fairly easy to grow and packed full of healthy nutrients. Tomatoes are low in saturated fat; very low in cholesterol; high in dietary fiber, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus; and very high in vitamin C, niacin, folate, potassium, copper, and manganese. The most common tomato color is the conventional red, although various heirloom varieties offer shades from yellow and orange to deep purple-red and striped in nearly every color except blue. Tomatoes also come in a variety of sizes from tiny cherry tomatoes to large beefsteak tomatoes.
To grow tomatoes in a home garden, start by preparing your soil. Tomatoes prefer slightly acidic soil. Also make sure that your soil does not contain too much sand or too much clay. I personally have never had much luck with starting tomatoes from seed. After a few failed attempts, I decided to purchase tomato seedlings from a garden nursery. However, depending on the greenness of your thumb and the variety of tomato that you want to grow, you do have the option of starting your tomatoes from seeds.
Tomatoes are tender plants, so do not move the plants outside until after the last frost of the season. Temperatures must remain above 55° for the proper growth of tomatoes. Once I am certain that winter is truly gone, I transplant my store-bought tomato seedlings into my garden. Last year I planted my seedlings in containers, but I have also planted my tomatoes directly in the soil.
Dig a hole slightly larger than the dirt of your tomato seedling. Carefully move the entire plant and dirt into the hole. Gently press the remaining dirt down and out the transplanted seedling. Because tomatoes grow big and tall, place a tomato cage around the seedling to assist with growth and prevent the branches from falling to the ground or snapping off. If you plant your tomatoes in the ground, consider using red pepper flakes to ward off pests like rabbits.
Tomatoes need plenty of sunlight, so place your tomato plants in a sunny spot in your garden. I like using containers for my tomatoes because I can easily move the containers around to find the best sunlight for my plants. Also water your tomatoes regularly. Keep the soil moist but not saturated with water. Cracks that radiate from the stems or run around the shoulders of the tomato fruit are often caused by hot, rainy weather or by fluctuating moisture levels in the soil.
Tomatoes ripen after different periods of time depending on the specific variety of tomato. Harvest your tomatoes as the fruits ripen throughout the growing season. My family and I love eating our tomatoes fresh picked from the vine all summer long. Tomatoes can also be canned or frozen. At the end of the growing season, discard the entire tomato plant. Do not compost tomato plants because of the high risk of spreading blight, a plant disease.
What tips do you have for growing tomatoes in a home garden?
Small Tomato Plants in Sink © 2013 Heather Johnson
Small Tomato Plants in the Sun © 2013 Heather Johnson
Preparing to Transplant the Small Tomato Plants © 2013 Heather Johnson
Freshly Transplanted Tomato Plants © 2013 Heather Johnson
Tomato Plants Growing in Containers 1 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Tomato Plants Growing in Containers 2 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Tomato Plants Growing in Containers 3 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Tomato Plants Growing in Containers 4 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Tomato Plants Growing in Containers 5 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Tomato Plants Growing in Containers 6 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Tomato Plants Growing in Containers 7 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Full Grown Tomato Plants in Containers © 2013 Heather Johnson
Cherry Tomatoes on Vine © 2013 Heather Johnson
Green Tomato on Vine © 2013 Heather Johnson
Tomatoes Ripening on Full Grown Plants in Containers © 2013 Heather Johnson
Freshly Picked Cherry Tomatoes © 2013 Heather Johnson