While you can always buy tomatoes from shops, supermarkets and farmers’ markets, why not plant and eat your own juicy tomatoes straight out of your garden instead? You can have an endless supply to throw into fresh summer salads, make tomato sauce or healthy juices with.
While at first glance, growing your own tomatoes may seem like a lot of work, especially if you do not have the so-called “green thumb,” this guide will show you step-by-step how to grow an endless supply of tomatoes in your own garden, and you can enjoy every juicy bite!
Step-by-Step Guide To Growing Tomato Plants
1. Choose Your Tomato Seeds
Choose your favorite variety of tomatoes and buy those seeds. There are many different types of tomatoes, and you want to make sure the ones you are growing are the ones you want.
Just some of the options include heirloom, roma, grape, and baby. The type you plant could be based on what you prefer using tomatoes for—whether for salads, sauce or juices.
2. Time When To Plant Your Tomato Seeds
You have to time the growing of tomatoes when there is absolutely no danger of frost as they need hot temperatures to survive and thrive.
Since the plants do typically take about 2-3 months to bear fruit, it is understandable to want to plant it early—just not too early! Ideally, get the seeds planted about six weeks before the date of the last frost. Depending on where you live, it can be anywhere between March to June.
3. Start Indoors
Considering the time frame mentioned above, and taking the plant’s need for lots of warmth and sun into account, you need to begin indoors, then move outside.
You will need:
- the seeds
- containers that are at least three inches deep with drainage holes
- a potting mix.
The fun begins:
- Start this process 6-8 weeks before moving them outside
- Mix the potting mix with some water to dampen it before placing it in the container, and fill it up until about half an inch from the top.
- With your fingers, press down to form a small ridge in the potting mix and add one seed to each ridge.
- Then, sprinkle over them with some more potting mix and gently press down on the mixture to set it.
- Check on the plants daily and keep the soil moist but not soggy.
- Once you see seedlings, light is crucial so you must place them a few inches under grow lights.
- When the leaves become visible, it’s time to start feeding your plants in addition to watering them—once a week with a liquid fertilizer.
4. Transfer Your Tomato Plants To Bigger Pots
When your seedlings are about 2-3 inches tall, you need to find bigger homes for them before planting them outside. The best option here is to use biodegradable pots that are about four inches deep. These are key since you can then easily just plant these directly outside, rather than uprooting them fully.
Add moist potting mix to the individual containers, and plant your seedling in that pot. You can add potting mix well up the stem as it will result in stronger plants.
5. Time To Move Your Tomato Plants Outside
You can transfer your tomato plants outside once they are several inches tall, which should happen about 4-6 weeks after initially potting them. Make sure to plant them somewhere where the roots can continue to grow, and give them enough space as crowding them will actually inhibit their growth.
You want to remove some of the bottom leaves and branches in order to plant them deeper than in the pots and make sure they have some sort of support system—either a stake or a tomato cage.
You can dig a hole deep enough or plant them sideways since the top of the plant will straighten itself out to grow towards the sun.
6. Your Tomato Plants Need Sun And Hydration
As mentioned above, tomatoes need a lot of sunshine to thrive. You want to pick a sheltered yet sunny spot to plant them, ideally where they would get approximately six to eight hours of sunlight a day.
Tomatoes love both sun and water, and you want to make sure they are getting enough of both. You should water your plants regularly to keep the soil moist and keep an eye on them.
You can add some mulch on your plants as it helps keep water from quickly evaporating from the soil, which means more hydration for your plants.
7. How To Upkeep Your Tomato Plants
To make sure your plants are growing strong, keep an eye on them daily when you are watering them. If you see branches or leaves that are damaged or old, gently remove them to keep your plant healthy. With all this love, attention and care, you can expect ripe fruit to pick in about 2 months!
When your plants start bearing fruit, both patience and speed are key. Patience to wait until the fruit is actually ripe, which can be seen by the color, feel, and smell, before picking them, and speed to get them before the animals do!