Plant tomatoes the right way
Place cages at planting time
Tomato supports for big tomatoes
How to Plant Tomatoes
Get your tomatoes off to a good start. Planting correctly will get you juicy sun-warmed tomatoes weeks ahead of the neighbors.
Invest in your garden soil
The better the soil, the better the garden. Before you plant, while tomato plants are hardening off, get your garden soil ready to grow. Tomatoes can easily survive the coming days of sun and drought if they well grounded in good soil.
→ Garden Goal: well draining soil with plenty of water holding capacity.
The best way to improve soil is by adding organic matter. Humus can hold 80–90% of its weight in moisture. The increased soil capacity helps your tomato plants withstand summer's drought conditions.
Buy bagged, composted animal manures, peat moss from bogs, or organic mulch. Or, use leaves, straw, shredded newspaper, grass clippings, or kitchen scraps. Some coffee shops giveaway used coffee grounds.
Work these materials into the soil. It is difficult to imagine that any home gardener can add too much organic matter. Add organic materials now. Once the tomatoes are planted, disturb the soil as little as possible.
If a soil test indicates that you need to add N, P or K, incorporate one of the following: blood meal (nitrogen), bone meal (phosphorus) and greensand (potassium). The biggest problem in a vegetable patch is over fertilization. Only apply as is recommended. Work all organic matter and fertilizers into the soil to prevent burning or stunned.
Harden off plants
Use these guidelines if you buy tomato plants or start the plants from seed. If you buy plants that have been outdoors, exposed to full days of sunshine and spring showers, the store has done some of the hardening off for you. Use an accelerated schedule acclimating the plants.
Harden off tomato plants in 7 - 10 days → This will prevent sunburn or windburn.
Starting tomatoes from seed or buying them, this is a good place to start
Plant tomatoes deep
Tomatoes are different
Planting tomatoes is different than planting other vegetables. These first planting steps could put you days ahead in the quest for the first ripe and juicy tomato. Seedlings are ready to plant outdoors when they are 6 or 7 inches tall.
Cloudy days are the best for transplanting tomatoes. Pinch off all the lower leaves. Only the very top and one set of leaves should remain.
Dig a hole 2” deeper than the entire tomato plant. Add a handful of crushed eggshells to the bottom of the planting hole. (Optional) Cover eggshells with an inch or two of soil.
Mix a trowel full of compost into the remaining soil. Replace enough soil so that only the top three or four inches of the plant is exposed. More new roots will grow along the deep-planted stem.
Firm the soil around the plant. Space heirloom tomato plants three feet apart. Plant determinate or bush type tomato plants two feet apart.
To prevent root damage, place stakes or cages around tomatoes when the tomatoes are planted. Thoroughly water the newly planted tomato vines. Once the summer heat arrives, heavily mulch around the tomato plants.
Favorite Heirloom tomatoes
Jersey Giant Paste
Principe Borghese Plum
Plant basil with tomatoes
Basil and tomatoes is a well known flavor combination. They are also excellent companion plants, each encouraging the other to grow.
Grow basil with tomatoes
Companion planting with tomatoes
Tomatoes love basil and basil loves tomatoes. Growing together increases the vigor and flavor of both the tomatoes and basil.
Spinach, lettuce, arugula will grow best shaded by the growing tomato plants. Chives, onion, parsley and carrots are also compatible with the tomatoes.
Nasturtiums help deter whitefly and aphids. Marigolds deter nematodes from tomatoes. Their bold fragrance can also confuse other insect pests. At the end of the season, chop up marigolds and till them into the soil.
Tomatoes with less acid
Red and yellow tomatoes have similar acidity levels. Yellow tomatoes tend to contain more sugar than red tomatoes. Yellow tomatoes taste sweeter (less acidic) than red tomatoes.
Low-acid tomatoes are more a matter of taste than real chemical composition. You think a tomato with a high sugar to acid ratio tastes less acid. In fact, there is not much difference in the acid levels.
Yellow tomatoes generally have more sugar. Therefore, they have a sweeter, less acid taste.
Non-red tomatoes, pink or yellow, do contain less acid than red tomatoes. But the measurable difference it is a very slight.
A tomato high in acid but low in sugars has a more acid taste. A tomato high in sugars and low in acids will taste sweet. If a tomato is low in both acids and sugars, it has a bland taste.
Most people say the best tasting tomato is a combination of high levels of acids and high levels of sugars.