How to Grow Tomatoes in a Garden

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If you’ve been thinking about growing tomatoes in your garden, it’s something we definitely recommend considering for more than one reason.

First, food costs are increasing drastically. Buying tomatoes from your local grocery store could be expensive. Moreover, even if you find affordable tomatoes, their quality could be questionable; store-bought tomatoes usually don’t have much color or flavor.

In addition, store-bought tomatoes may contain genetically modified organisms, pesticides, and fertilizers, so you just don’t know what you’re buying.

For these reasons, growing your own tomatoes is becoming an attractive option if you have the space. However, you might not know the first thing about growing tomatoes. Fortunately, it’s not a complicated process as long as you follow the proper steps.

This article discusses how to grow tomatoes in a garden – everything from planting and transplanting to watering, feeding, and picking.

How to Grow Tomatoes in a Garden: Step by Step

First, we want to discuss growing tomatoes in a garden. So let’s start at the beginning – choosing the right kind of tomatoes.

1. Choose the Tomatoes to Grow

There are two main types of tomatoes. The first is known as the determinate tomato. These are smaller varieties that grow as bushes, usually around two or three feet tall. This kind of tomato plant usually produces a lot of ripe tomatoes at once.

However, they fruit for a relatively short period. Therefore, they’re more productive earlier in their growth stages than vine tomatoes. This tomato plant also does not require staking or caging as they are pretty short.

The other type is the indeterminate tomato plant, which grows on vines. This is the largest type of tomato plant that generally produces tomatoes all season until the first frost. These tomato plants are larger, which means they need caging or staking.

2. Planting the Tomatoes from Seed

You can always buy small tomato starter plants. However, we want to talk about starting your tomatoes from seed. If you’re starting your plants from seeds, you first need to germinate the seeds, which is easily done. Simply put them in a damp paper towel in an airtight plastic bag, and let them sit for a few days. After four to seven days, you should see seeds breaking open and sprouting.

If you start in the late winter, you will need to first plant them inside. Ideally, plant them from 6 to 8 weeks before the last spring frost.

When your seeds have sprouted, plant them in trays. Make sure to choose a soil ideal for tomato seedlings, such as a complete soil with a balanced NPK ratio.

The seeds should be planted about half an inch deep, although the soil should be around 2 inches deep in total. Also, make sure that the soil is around 70° Fahrenheit, especially if you plan to germinate the seeds in the soil instead of inside a paper towel.

Tomato plants need a lot of sunlight, so when growing them indoors, you need to have them close to a window that gets a lot of sun or place them under grow lights.

3. Transplanting the Tomato Plants to Your Garden

Once the weather turns warm, you can plant your tomato starters outside. You want to find a space that is very sunny but not too windy. Before you start planting, you need the right soil, such as an excellent potting soil with some compost and manure. Allow the compost and manure to break down for several weeks before planting.

While waiting for these components to break down, you want to get the seedlings ready for outdoor conditions. Set them outdoors in a shady area for several hours each day and increase the length they spend outdoors in the shade before planting them.

When your plants have been hardened off and the outdoor soil is at least 60° Fahrenheit, you can plant your tomatoes outside. First, dig about a foot into the ground and put each of the root balls deep enough so that the bottom leaves of the tomato plant are just above the soil.

Moreover, leave at least two or three feet of space between seedlings because their root systems need room to grow. Plants that are crowded won’t get enough nutrients from the soil, and they also won’t get enough sunlight. Finally, as soon as your tomato seedlings have been planted, give them a decent amount of water to prevent root shock.

When you transplant your tomatoes outdoors, add a bit of organic tomato fertilizer. Another good option is bonemeal; the point is that you want to add a bit of phosphorus to the soil. However, avoid any fertilizer high in nitrogen. Nitrogen-rich fertilizers might be ideal for producing foliage, but they won’t help you with fruiting.

4. Watering Outdoor Tomato Plants

Your tomato plants need moisture, especially if you live in a very hot climate. When you first plant your tomatoes outdoors, be sure to water them quite generously.

Then, once your tomato plants are established, give them about 2 inches of water every week (this is 2 inches of water per square foot). Water them quite deeply to ensure that they grow robust root systems.

Never water your tomato plants from overhead because you don’t want the foliage to get wet. Moreover, never water your tomato plants in the afternoon; if you water them during the daytime, especially when the sun is beating down on them, you may burn your tomato plants. In addition, too much of the water will evaporate in the heat.

You may also want to add some mulch on the surface of the soil a few weeks after transplanting. This will help control weeds and prevent water from getting onto the lower leaves.

How to Grow Tomatoes in a Garden

5. Fertilizing Your Tomatoes

If you use good soil and fertilize your plants, to begin with, you won’t need to fertilize them for the first few weeks after planting. However, after about a month of planting, use organic fertilizer once your tomatoes are about 1 inch in diameter. Pay attention to the three main nutrients; a good nutrient ratio for fertilizer is 4-7-10. Then, fertilize your tomato plants about every three weeks.

6. Staking and Pruning

If you grow indeterminate tomato plants, you will need to stake or cage them. Use soft string or twine to gently tie the stems to the stakes or the cages. Moreover, as your tomato plant grows, trim the lower leaves off the bottom foot of the stem.

7. Monitoring for Pests

Various pests such as aphids, slugs, and other insects love tomato plants, so you want to monitor your plants for pests.

If you notice these pests, you’ll want to use insecticidal soap and apply it directly to the plants. Remember, there are many natural pest deterrents. However, if all else fails, a professional insecticide product may be your only choice.


This has been a basic tutorial on how to grow tomatoes in a garden. If you follow the tips we listed above, you should not have any problems growing some big and beautiful tomato plants.

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