How to Grow Tomatoes

Tomatoes are amazing! They are the base of so many dishes in so many cultures because of their versatility and incredible flavor. I’ve always loved tomatoes, but my love for them grew even more when I first had a sun warmed and ripened tomato straight off the plant. Grocery store tomatoes could never compare. That’s why it’s so exciting that they are super easy to grow at home! In this post, we’re gonna cover the basics of how to grow tomatoes and hopefully get you excited to get started. 

tomato plant


Tomatoes like a good, ever so slightly acidic soil that’s rich and loamy with good drainage. Some people like using peat moss in their soil to accomplish this, but we do not recommend peat. Peat is being seriously over harvested and used in the gardening industry. Peat is very important for carbon sequestration. Since it takes a very long time to form, over a thousand years for a thick layer to form on the bogs in fact, we can’t truly call it a renewable resource. Because of the overharvesting, we recommend using substances like Coco core to replace peat in your soil mixes.

Adding compost to amend your soil mix will create great richness and nutrients as well. To make your soil slightly more acidic, you can add coffee grounds and pine needles to your compost to break down, before adding it to your tomato plants.

green tomato on the vine


Fertilizing your tomatoes will help with a really nice healthy yield on your plants. It’s best to fertilize a couple times during the season, including when you first transplant your tomatoes, and then every 4-6 weeks afterward. Our personal favorite fertilizers are from Fox Farm. We love Fox Farm because they make fertilizers specifically for organic gardening, it bears amazing results, and it’s OMRI listed.

If you want to keep it easy, we recommend their Happy Frog All Purpose fertilizer for all your vegetables, but if you are looking for something more tomato specific, try this one. Follow the application instructions for whatever fertilizer you choose as they can vary. Make sure not to get fertilizer on the leaves of your tomatoes. 

tomatoes on a windowsill


Tomatoes like water. Since they thrive in warmer weather, they like to be watered thoroughly  a couple of times a week. If you are in a hot dry spell, keep an eye on your tomatoes and soil as you may need to water them daily. Watering consistently is important, because when you water heavily after a long dry period, your tomatoes are prone to splitting. This happens, because when there is a drastic increase in moisture, your tomatoes swell too quickly for the skin to stretch and will therefore split.

This is especially a risk when you get very heavy rainfall. We also recommend mulching your tomatoes with organic matter to keep the moisture levels even. 

tomato blossoms


Tomatoes like lots of light and warmth. They do best in full sun, which is six or more hours of sunlight per day. However, to get the best results, aim for eight or more hours of sunlight. This will help you achieve a full harvest of beautiful and sweet tomatoes. When it comes to heat, tomatoes like a range of 70-85 degrees fahrenheit to thrive. With a range that is hotter or colder than this, your tomato plants will be susceptible to blossom drop.

If you are looking to learn how to grow tomatoes in a greenhouse, there are certain varieties like Marbonne and Rebelski that have been proven to grow incredibly well in greenhouse conditions. Make sure you find the best varieties for your conditions. Some will be more cold hardy, some will be more disease resistant etc.

cherry tomatoes on the vine


We recommend starting your tomato plants indoors 4-6 weeks before planting outdoors, or buying starts. Directly sowing your tomatoes from seed outdoors will majorly set you back. Plant your tomatoes outdoors when nightly temperatures don’t dip below 50 degrees fahrenheit. The spacing required for tomatoes varies, so pay attention to what your particular variety recommends.

green tomato on the vine

Common Pests

Hornworms and Blossom-end rot are two common issues that can affect your tomatoes. But don’t worry, there are things you can do to prevent these issues.

  • Hornworms

Hornworms are large green caterpillars with white stripes that grow up to four inches in length. They can be hard to spot on your tomatoes because of their color. Hornworms can be a huge pain, as they can strip your tomato plants of foliage in just a few days. Ok, so how do you keep these guys off your plants? They can be hand removed and kept at bay that way, but you can also plant basil, French marigold, and dill around your tomatoes to keep them away from your plants.

One of the hornworm’s enemies is a braconid wasp which is a small parasitic wasp that lays eggs on the hornworm and kills it. To attract these small beneficial wasps to your garden, plant small flowering plants like yarrow and chamomile. Make sure to check your tomatoes on the daily, so that you can catch these caterpillars early. 

cherry tomatoes on the vine
  • Blossom-end Rot

Blossom end rot is a physiological disease caused by soil moisture fluctuation and a lack of calcium. It presents as a brown leathery spot on the bottom of your tomatoes. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can protect your tomatoes from Blossom-end rot. Consistent watering, especially when your plants are fruiting will help decrease the likelihood of your fruit developing this issue. You can also mulch your plants to ensure your soil will have a more consistent moisture level and keep watering extremes at bay. It’s also important to not over fertilize as this can contribute to the problems that can cause Blossom-end rot. 

Tomatoes are so worth growing yourself and are so so delicious when grown at home. It may seem tricky to learn how to grow tomatoes, but I promise they it isn’t. It’s best to just take the leap and start. Best of luck and happy growing! Loving these tips? Learn how to grow cucumbers and turnips with these easy steps.

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