Climate plays a very important role in tomato production. Most tomatoes fruit between 50-95°F (10-35ºC). If your warm season temperatures are outside this range, you’ll want to look for those few varieties that can produce at higher temperatures.
Consider starting your seeds indoors or purchasing young tomato plants from your local nursery to get a headstart on the growing season for cooler climates. For hot climates, it can cause lower immunity if the plant is not well established by the time temperatures hit their highs.
In addition to choosing the right type, choosing varieties that are well adapted to your climate can vastly increase your tomato harvests. Discover how to find the best varieties for your climate with the 10 Tips for Growing Delicious Tomatoes Download from our friends at Grow Your Own Vegetables.
3. Your Tomato Plants Need 6-8 Hours of Sunlight
Without proper sunlight, your vegetable plants cannot photosynthesize and grow. Your outdoor tomato plants need 6 hours of sunlight minimum and ideally, 8 or more for optimum health. NOTE: Sunlight and grow lamps are not the same thing. If growing indoors, your tomato plants need 16-18 hours under grow lamps.
4. Quality Soil Means Nutrient-Rich Food
Health starts in the soil. If growing in a container, choose a high quality, organic potting mix. If growing in soil, ensure good drainage, structure and fertility. Tomatoes like a lot of nutrition! Add a 2” layer minimum of organic compost on the top of your potting mix or soil each growing season will most likely not be enough. Dr. Earth is one example of an organic soil amendment made specifically for tomatoes.
5. Grow Tomatoes Vertically & Trellis Early
Growing vertically is one of the best choices for your tomato health. Plants drooping on the ground have a greater chance of contracting diseases and more fruit is wasted. Stake or trellis when plants are young. Waiting can result in a tangled mess and damage to your plants where disease can enter.
For determinate tomatoes that typically grow between 3-5 feet tall at full maturity, cages are often enough. But for indeterminate tomato types, you’ll want a taller, stronger trellis. You can find more information on trellises here in the 10 Tips for Growing Delicious Tomatoes download.
6. Prune For Health & Get More Than Tomatoes
Tomatoes are plagued by more diseases than any other garden vegetable. Luckily, many of these diseases can be prevented through increased air circulation. If you’re planting indeterminate tomatoes, you’ll want to begin pruning lower leaves when the plant is 8-12” high keeping a minimum of three leaves at all times.
As your plants grow and are pruned, their roots will grow deeper and the foliage will be higher off the ground. This not only provides your tomato plants with ideal air circulation, but you’ll have extra space left over on the soil surface to plant some lower growing plants. Basil is a favorite choice for gardeners to plant under tomato plants. They compliment each other well in the garden and on your plate, making it easy to harvest for those mouth watering summer Caprese salads.