Growing Tomatoes

Start a new hobby this summer by learning how to grow delicious tomatoes.

Tomatoes are a cherished edible in any garden. Learn how easy it is to grow tomatoes whether you have acres of land to grow a vegetable plot in containers on your balcony.

Starting from Seed VS Buying Plants

If you plan on growing tomato plants in your garden from seed, you will need to start around April.

Garden centres begin carrying mature tomato plants towards the end of May. For best results, look for healthy plants with a dark green stem. Be sure to loosen up the soil around the roots before gently planting.

Tomatoes cell packs for sale at Sheridan Nurseries

When selecting tomatoes, keep in mind that there are many kinds that you can choose from; some of which include heirloom varieties, coloured tomatoes (yellow, chocolate, purple, orange, and red), as well as different sizes and varying harvest periods.

Remember: tomato plants are very susceptible to frost and should only be planted outside once the risk of frost has passed. It is easy to feel eager to plant once it warms up in early May, but cool nighttime temperatures can damage new plants.

Growing Requirements for Tomatoes

Tomatoes need a soil rich in organic matter. Start off by adding a layer of 3-in-1 triple mix in the garden or use urban container mix for tomatoes growing in containers. These soil bases are composed of all the organic matter that makes the soil conditions perfect for the plant to grow and be happy.

Like most vegetables, plant your tomatoes in an area that receives a minimum of six hours of sunlight.

As they start to produce fruit, you’ll want to ensure they have the support they need in the soil to gather as much water and nutrients as possible. If they are growing in containers, make sure they containers are 16” to 24” tall to give adequate room for root growth.

Consider that when you are growing tomatoes in containers, they can dry out faster compared to being planted in the ground. Check the soil often to make sure it is moist and your plant will thank you. A general rule of thumb is to water the plants thoroughly at least once a week, with roughly one inch of water. It might be worth investing in a soaker hose and running it for 30-45 minutes once a week.  Each plant can also receive one watering can’s worth of water (three gallons).

Placing stakes around the plants will help them grow to their heart’s content without taking over your garden. This will also help the plant produce a higher yield as it is exposed to more sun and allows air to circulate.

Fertilizer

Tomatoes are heavy feeders and have deep root systems. Consider using organic fertilizer or a slow release formula that will maintain the nutrient levels in the soil.

You will notice the plants will change colour when nutrients are incorrect. If you notice purple edges or yellow veins, it is time to fertilize. They are also prone to fruit drop if they experience a severe nutrient deficiency, which is most common in containers.

Harvesting

Don’t wait to pluck those juicy tomatoes off the vine – when you see them ripe and red, it is time to remove them! Early plucking will also encourage new growth and reduce the risk of disease.

Planting herbs in containers at the base of your tomato can make the growing process more fun; think of tomato sauce and plant oregano, basil, thyme, and parsley. Herbs can actually repel some of the unwanted pests that can attack tomatoes.

From adding tomatoes to salads to making homemade salsa, the recipes are endless. Has anyone ever turned down their neighbours home-grown produce? We didn’t think so.