Growing Tomatoes

Growing tomatoes doesn't require a green thumb.

hand-tomatoes.jpgGrowing Tomatoes Doesn't Require a Green Thumb

Home grown tomatoes are much sweeter and more flavourful than store bought tomatoes. There are many varieties of tomatoes. For sandwiches beefsteak are a great choice. For a bite -size snack cherry tomatoes are a good choice. Check your local nursery or if you like to shop online I recommend: Be sure to check the tag as there are early season and late season varieties of tomatoes. If you live in an area that has a short growing season you'll want to be sure to buy early-season tomatoes to ensure that they ripen in time for you to enjoy them.


Water two inches deep and slow at the roots, as watering from above causes disease which in turn causes pests to attack the tomato plants. Furthermore, watering from above evaporates quickly, rendering it ineffective. The drip method is recommended to keep the soil evenly moist. Water once a week in the cooler times of the year and every 2-3 days in the peak of summer. Also, the time of day is important. Water either early morning or evening. Watering in the heat of the day is ineffective as the soil will be hot and the water will evaporate. Keep the soil moist but do your best not to water directly on the leaves of the tomato plant. Mulching is another trick to keep the soil moist. Wood chips are a good form of mulch. Many companies will deliver trees that have been mulched to your property for free. You may want to try calling tree mulchers in your area to see if this is an option for you.

Starting from seeds:

Determine the date of the last frost in your area. Sow seeds indoors one month before the date of the last frost. When the seedlings have grown to 3 to 4 inches tall, you can plant them outside, one quarter inch deep in the soil. Sunlight needed is minimum of 6-8 hours throughout the day (doesn't have to be constant). Planting deeply is important up to the first set of leaves. In order to do this you need to first pinch off all the lower leaves. Next space your seedlings 2-3 feet apart. Tomatoes naturally like to spread out in width. To encourage your tomatoes to grow vertically each plant should have either a tomato cage or stake (long stick or bamboo pole).


Pruning is necessary to encourage tomatoes to produce more fruit and less leaves. Look at the intersection of the main branch and the stem. If you see another branch growing in this space you have a sucker. It looks like an extra arm growing out of an armpit. This is what you prune or pinch off. Also, prune all leaves that hang a foot from the ground to prevent blight, which is a brown fungus that grows on leaves.


When your tomatoes have turned from green to red they are ready for picking (Note: there are different types of tomatoes that ripen to different colours including yellow, pink and black, so if you are unsure check the tag). Gently pinch off the tomato. If you pull too hard you may break off the whole branch. Be sure to pick all your tomatoes before the first cold snap of fall. If some of your tomatoes that are still green, you can either use them in recipes like fried green tomatoes or green salsa or you can be ripened indoors. To ripen your green tomatoes indoors cover them in newspaper and place them in a cardboard box near a sunny window. Then unwrap and check your tomatoes weekly to see if they have turned red. Extra tomatoes can also be frozen to use for making soups or pasta sauce later in the year.

Ramona Stevens