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Vegetable Growing Tips

Tips for Growing Tomatoes

Although they are officially fruits, tomatoes are a staple of home vegetable gardens. Follow these tips for growing tomatoes and you will always have plump, delicious tomatoes in your garden.

Tomatoes on the vine
There are dozens of tomato types to choose from when
planning your garden.

  • For flexible-stemmed seedlings like tomatoes, a horizontal planting trench is better than a vertical one. It is warmer and better aerated than deeper soil, encouraging good root growth and fast development.
  • Stake your tomato cages so a bumper crop won't pull them over. Work a tall stake through the wire mesh near the perimeter of the cage and stab it 4 to 6 inches deep in the ground. This will anchor the cage (and the plant inside) firmly despite the pull of strong winds and branchfuls of ripening tomatoes.

    Early, Midseason, and Late Tomatoes

    • Early Girl
    • Early Pick
    • First Lady
    • Glacier
    • Oregon Spring

    • Better Boy
    • Big Beef
    • Big Boy
    • Big Girl
    • Celebrity
    • Delicious
    • Floramerica
    • Heatwave

    • Homestead
    • Oxheart
    • Wonderboy
    • Supersteak
    • Beefmaster
    • Brandywine

  • Prune tomato plants to direct maximum energy into tomato production. Choose your pruning plan based on what you want from your tomatoes. For larger and earlier (but fewer) tomatoes, remove any shoots that emerge on or beside the main stem, and tie the stem to a stake. For more tomatoes later, let plants bush out and support them in tomato cages. Pinch off any flowers that open before July 4.
  • Choose between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes according to the way you prefer to harvest.
  • Determinate tomatoes (such as Celebrity) tend to stay compact and produce most of their tomatoes at about the same time. This is convenient for freezing, canning, and sauce making.

  • Indeterminate tomatoes (such as Big Beef) keep growing and developing new tomatoes as they go. They produce a greater yield but spread it over a longer harvest period.
  • Dozens of different cultivars are in each class -- plenty to pick from. You might have to check seed catalogues to find out whether a particular tomato is determinate or not.

Want more gardening tips? Try:

  • Gardening Tips: Learn great helpful hints for all of your gardening needs.
  • Annuals: Plant these beauties in your garden.
  • Perennials: Choose great plants that will return year after year.
  • Gardening: Discover how to garden.