#6: Best Tomato Growing Tips

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If I could only choose one crop to grow it’d be tomatoes. A fresh tomato is so delicious and there is no comparison to those bought at the store. In today’s show, I’ll be covering some of my best tips for growing tomatoes so that you can have a successful harvest this season. 

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Tomato Growing Tips

Tomatoes can be simple to grow but they can also be challenging. There are so many tomato growing hacks and tips out there it can be difficult figuring out what advice to follow. 

So I’ll be sharing the tips that work best for us here in our garden. 

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Tomato Growing Basics

Tomatoes are a warm-season crop and need warm weather to thrive. They’ll typically keep growing until they get killed off by the first freeze. However, if you only experience a mild frost they may continue growing throughout fall and into winter.

Or in climates with very mild winters you may be able to grow tomatoes all year long. 

Tip 1 – Grow Hybrid Varieties

Hybrid tomato varieties are a lot easier to grow, especially it hot climates with more challenging weather. Hybrid tomatoes are bred to be resistant to heat, pests, and disease and they tend to be more productive than most heirloom varieties as well.

My favorite hybrid varieties include,

Tip 2 – Give Them Plenty of Space

It can be tempting to crowd your tomatoes at planting time especially if you’re limited on space. But overcrowding your plants is only going to result in poor growth and a higher change of pest and disease issues. 

You’ll get a better harvest if you give your plants more space so that you can grow healthier plants.

In general indeterminate type tomato plants should be spaced 3-4 feet apart and smaller determinate and dwarf type varieties can be spaced closer together. However, always refer to the plant tag or description for exact spacing. 

Learn more about spacing tomatoes in this post here, How Far Apart to Plant Tomatoes

Tip 3 – Give Tomato Plants Good Support

Tomato plants get big and need support to grow or the plants will just fall over on the ground. Tomato cages are common but they never seem to work, they always fall over. You’re better off building your own trellis with T-posts and wire or T-posts and a cattle panel

In years past I had long rows with T-posts and 3 strands of wire but this year we built a cattle panel arch. 

Tip 4 – Water Tomato Plants Effectively

This can mean various things. But first off, keep in mind that tomato plants get big and their roots grow deep and wide.

So you need to water slowly and deeply to encourage deep and healthy roots.

As the plants are growing you need to provide plenty of water but you shouldn’t water shallow and frequent.

It’s best to water deep infrequently. But of course always adjust your watering schedule based on your weather and plant growth.

Tip 5 – Avoid Container Planting

Tomatoes need a lot of space to thrive. So planting in raised beds or directly in the ground is the best option. 

But if your only option is a container, bigger is better. Ideally a container that holds at least 1.5 cubic feet of soil or more per tomato plant. 

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Tip 6 – Don’t Over Prune

In hot climates like zone 9, it’s important to have extra foliage on your tomato plants to protect the fruit from the sun. I like to prune the bottom 12-15 inches from the soil level up, to make sure there aren’t any branches touching the soil. But then I prune minimally to make sure their is plenty of foliage to protect the fruit. 

As long as your plants are properly spaced there is a much lower chance for pests and disease anyways and so if you don’t want to prune at all that’s completely fine. 

Tip 7 – Burry 2/3 of the Tomato Stem at Planting 

Tomato plants can grow roots from any part of the stem. So at planting time it’s a best practice to bury 2/3 of the plant’s stem. Roots will grow all along the buried stem which will create a much stronger and healthier plant. 

Tip 8 – Don’t Harvest the Fruit too Soon

The cool thing about tomatoes is that they can ripen off the vine. So if you’re at the end of the season and want to harvest your green tomatoes to ripen inside before the fruit gets damaged by the frost that’s great. 

But throughout the growing season, the longer the fruit can ripen on the plant the tastier it will be. So once you see a tomato that has ripened give it a few extra days on the plant and it will be even more flavorful.

Tomatoes are great because they don’t get overly ripe and overgrown is size like other vegetables such as cucumbers and zucchini do. 

All in all, if you give your tomato plants plenty of space, plant them in a really large container, raised bed, or in the ground, water deeply and infrequently, bury 2/3 of the stem at planting time, provide good support, and plant more hybrid varieties you should have a really successful season with your tomatoes this year! 

Join the Zone 9 Garden Club

Sometimes the most helpful thing you can do is reach out to other gardeners for help. I would love for you to join the Zone 9 Garden Club!

As a member you get,

  • Monthly video garden tours and trainings
  • Monthly growing calendars for zone 9
  • Timely harvesting & planting tips
  • Access to an active community off of social media
  • A resource library full of gardening courses and guides
  • And more!

Podcast Feedback

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Podcast Episode Resources and Links Mentioned

8 Best Tomato Growing Tips for a Successful Harvest
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One Comment

  1. Hi Audrey,
    Debra Williams here. I live in northeastern Florida. My garden is doing good. I’m harvesting vegetables: tomatoes, green bell peppers, jalapeños, and banana peppers. I have an abundance of tomatoes. How do I preserve the tomatoes?

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