Tomatoes are a great starter plant as they are fairly easy to grow and don’t need pollinators to help them out. Here is our guide on when to grow tomatoes in your garden.
When to grow tomatoes: Tomato plants need to wait until May before they can go into the ground. You can get a head start and plant seeds inside, but the seedlings still need to wait until May to be transplanted. Dig large holes and place a layer of compost at the bottom. Add more soil and ensure your tomato plants have nice, moist soil, as well as proper drainage. You can add a metal cage or a trellis to help support your plants. While some varieties are ready in as little as 70 days, others can take over 90 days to mature.
What month do you grow tomatoes?
The timing of when to plant your tomatoes will vary by climate but the general rule is that you need to wait until there is no danger of frost. Generally, May is a solid month to plant your tomatoes in the ground.
However, if you have a shorter growing season, you can always start your tomatoes with seedlings. You can plant seedlings inside in March or April but you will still need to wait until the frost season is over before transplanting them outside.
How to grow tomatoes
Start your seedlings
You can choose to plant tomato seeds directly into your garden or you can plant them indoors to give them a head start. If you want to transplant seedlings, start your seeds six months before the first frost date.
Once you are ready to transplant your seedlings, allow them to transition for about a week. Place the tray of seedlings outside for a few hours on one day, and the rest of the week slowly increase this time so the outdoors are not as huge of a shock.
Dig your holes
Tomato plants can get quite bushy so you want to provide plenty of space between other tomatoes as well as other plants. Aim to leave up to two feet of space between plants.
If you are planning on planting your tomatoes in a container, generally one plant per container is the rule. This provides the roots with enough space to grow in the soil.
The one important factor with tomatoes is that they need a lot of nutrients. Indeed, many people opt to plant them in pots as you need to add a lot of nutrients to future soil to get it ready for different plants.
Start your tomatoes off right by adding a layer of compost to the plant hole. This will allow the nutrients to soak into the soil and your tomato will start off very healthy.
Place your tomato plant into the hole and add soil so that the roots are completely covered. You may want to lightly pack the soil into place to provide some stability to the roots.
Try to plant your tomatoes deep enough so that the soil is just under the first layer of leaves. Roots will grow along the stem if it is underground.
After your plant is in the ground, give it good watering. You want to encourage the roots to spread out and the soil to settle. You may need to add more soil after your first watering.
Add straw or mulch
Tomatoes prefer soil that is continually moist. While it shouldn’t be sopping wet, they don’t like to be dried out.
In order to help you out in between watering, add a layer of bark mulch or straw. This will keep moisture in, making your tomato plants nice and healthy.
Add a cage
As tomatoes grow, their large fruit can topple over and even break the stems. To avoid this, provide a simple metal cage for your plant to grow in.
It’s best to place the cage on your seedling rather than wait until your plant is large. This way you won’t risk breaking stems as you place the metal around your plant.
Other tips on how to help your tomatoes grow
Check regularly for pests such as aphids. Be sure to check under the leaves and if you find them, spray with water or soapy water.
Water your tomatoes at the base of the plant, near the soil level. Overhead watering can lead to rot both on the leaves and the tomatoes themselves
Tomatoes that are exposed to a lot of water in a short time can split as they grow. These tomatoes are still edible but you will want to cut around the break.
If you want to plant tomatoes in a container, it needs to have well-draining soil so that the water doesn’t pool. Add a tray to the bottom to catch any water and keep the soil moist.
There are different types of tomatoes that take various times to grow. For a longer tomato season, try planting a variety of plants.
Large tomatoes may need extra support so be sure to add extra stakes. You should also look for signs of them dropping and you may need to thin out the tomatoes on the vine.
If you have an early frost, harvest your tomatoes, or else they will become ruined. Green tomatoes may not be as flavorful but they will ripen on their own inside, especially if you place them in a brown paper bag.
Can I grow tomatoes any time of the year?
No, you can’t grow your tomatoes at any time of the year. Tomatoes need a lot of heat to grow and if you plant too early, the roots will become frost-bitten and if you plant too late, the soil temperature will become too cold.
The only alternative is if you have a hothouse. Then, you can control the temperature and have more leeway when your tomatoes will grow.
Tomatoes are an excellent first foray into gardening. Plant your tomatoes in May, once the soil temperature is warm enough. Give them nutrients and plenty of water and soon your tomato plants will thrive.