Tomatoes: They’re the epitome of summer. This bright red, and sometimes green fruit is at the center stage of everything from sandwiches to sauces and soups. Knowing how to plant tomatoes the right way is the key to a prolific yield with plenty of fruit for you, your family, and possibly your friends too. While it’s true tomatoes can stand on their own, they can also be eaten in a wide range of different dishes and meals. That, combined with that fact that they are quite tasty, makes them one of the best plants to grow at home.
The bright, red fruit is perfect for people who want a simple crop they can store just about anywhere. You can put tomato plants in many different parts of your house, and they also do well in a garden or wide yard.
Even if you do not know how to plant tomatoes, all it takes is an extra bit of knowledge to get them to flourish.
The Ins and Outs of How to Plant Tomatoes
Learning how to plant a tomato is a relatively simple process, but it is a bit more complex than it first seems. There are a few steps to follow, and if you keep them all in mind, you’ll have homegrown tomatoes in no time.
To begin with tomatoes, you first need to get some seeds. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is important because there is a range of different species and breeds to pick from. Even regular garden tomatoes come in various forms, and knowing the difference between them is vital.
This decision largely revolves around what you want from your tomatoes, as well as the type of dishes you want to use them in.
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Always research different types before choosing what seeds to get. You don’t want to go through all of the steps just to have a disappointing end result.
Note that, while you can plant tomatoes using an already-started plant, you’ll tend to get better results in your journey to learn how to plant tomatoes if you begin with seeds because they grant you more control.
Spring Frost and a Sunny Site
The next aspects you need to focus on when learning how to plant tomatoes are the time and the site.
You can put tomato seeds into the dirt at any time of the year. However, it is best to plant them roughly six to eight weeks before the last spring frost date.
Tomatoes are warm weather plants in every sense of the word. They do not do well in the cold, but they can also suffer in high heat. Any extreme temperature one way or another will harm the growing process. The above start date keeps them in the perfect range and allows them to flourish.
Beyond that, when planting tomatoes outdoors, it is best to put them in a well-drained site (the fruits don’t need a lot of water) that gets a lot of sun. In colder regions, your plants need to get roughly six hours of sun a day. In warmer areas, they need a bit of afternoon shade.
Finding the Perfect Soil
Tomatoes, like any plant, depend on good soil to grow and thrive. There are different concoctions on the market. Some offer special chemicals to help your tomatoes grow quickly, and others use a mix of natural ingredients.
The type someone picks changes from individual to individual, but if you do your research on how to plant tomatoes and understand how soil affects a growing seed, you’ll be able to get great results.
No matter which fertilizer or additives you want, always test your at-home soil before planting. This step is easy to gloss over, but it is important to know your soil’s chemical makeup. Most soil test kits are cheap and easy to get at your local store or online.
Use that to check the dirt’s PH levels. Your goal is 7, which enables your tomatoes to take in the most nutrients possible. The soil does not have to be perfectly balanced, but you want to get to as close to the middle as you can.
Another way to enhance your soil is with organic ingredients. For tomatoes, natural additives like eggshell, fish emulsion, bone meal, and worm castings all provide the essential blend of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium the plants need to bear fruit.
The Move Outdoors
Typically, when learning how to plant tomatoes, you want to start them indoors and then transfer them outside. That is not the only way to go through this process (you can go straight outside if you so desire) but starting inside ensures your plants come up in the exact way you want them to.
If you go the transplant route, it is important to dig the soil in the outside plot roughly 1 foot down and then mix it with compost or aged manure to let the blend work before planting.
From there, you need to get your plants used to the outside climate. Harden them by placing them in the outdoor shade for a few hours. Gradually increase the time they stay outside each day until you’re ready to keep them there for good.
When planting, you also have the option to put down tomato stakes or cages in the soil. This can be a key part of the “how to plant tomatoes” process because it allows the plant to climb off the ground and hold itself upright as it continues to spread.
Most people choose to use a stake or cage to help their tomatoes grow. However, you can also let them sprawl across the ground if you prefer. This is a good option, but it only works in areas that have proper weather and ample space.
Unlike seeds, transplants should be put in the soil directly after the last spring frost. Place them so that they are spaced roughly 2 feet apart.
Plant them Deep
Tomatoes are a fruit that, while outside, likes to be down in the soil. Though some crops want to be near the surface, burying tomato plants deep helps them absorb a range of necessary nutrients.
Take your transplants and place them deep enough in the soil so that the lowest leaves stick out right above the surface. If your plants have a lot of roots, you can cover nearly 2/3 of the plant with no worries.
It may seem odd to bury part or most of the stem, but tomatoes can grow roots out from all parts of the plant.
Once your transplants are in the soil, water them thoroughly to make sure the roots don’t get shocked.
Another important tip here is to never pack down the soil too tight. It is easy to think your plants want to be snug, but tomatoes need airflow and oxygen. You won’t get either if the soil is over packed.
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Choosing to Grow in Pots
Seeds and transplants are great ways for people who do not know how to plant tomatoes to enjoy the delicious fruit. However, there is one more way to grow the plants.
If you do not have a big yard or don’t want to fuss around in a garden, you can always raise tomatoes in a pot.
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To utilize this method, first buy a large pot or container with drainage holes at the bottom (it is extremely important to let the water out).
Then, as when planting outside, you need to get loose, well-draining soil. That promotes air flow, gives the seeds the ability to spread their roots, and ensures they get a good amount of oxygen.
If you have your own soil, great. However, if you don’t, a good potting mix blended with organic matter is one of the best ways to ensure your indoor plants thrive.
Only plant one tomato per pot and know what type you want. Many tomatoes that grow outside don’t do well indoors, but bush, dwarf and cherry tomatoes will all flourish in a confined space.
Also, note that if you go with a taller variety you will need to stake it. This is not true of every inside breed, which shows why it is so important to do the proper research before making the decision to grow in a pot.
Place your pot in a sunny spot that gets between six and eight hours of sun a day. A bit more than that won’t harm the tomato too much, but anything less can lead to problems down the line.
Finally, keep the soil moist as the tomatoes grow and make sure to be a bit generous when watering the plant when it gets scorching outside.
Nothing Beats Home Grown
Not everyone knows how to plant tomatoes, but everyone can with the proper knowledge. The tasty fruit is one of the best at-home crops because, not only does it taste great, but it also is easy to maintain.
Growing tomatoes is not an involved process, but it reaps great rewards. Regardless of what variety you enjoy, or what dish you want to create, the above steps will give you a delicious new addition to your diet.