The Q&A Archives: Planning A Tomato Garden

Question: I would like to plan a tomato garden. What do I do and when do I start?

Answer: I am not sure exactly what you have in mind by "planning". There are many varieties of tomatoes available, but they are all grown about the same way. Determinate plants produce a main crop of tomatoes and then stop growing, indeterminate tomatoes will produce less at a time but continue all season until frost. This can be useful information if you are planning on canning or simply want tomatoes for fresh eating.

Tomatoes do best in a location with full sun all day long and a rich, slightly acid, moist yet well drained soil that has been deeply dug and well amended with organic matter. You might start by running some basic soil tests and then preparing the planting area. It is a bit late in the season to start seedlings, so, after all danger of frost is past, purchase healthy transplants and plant them in the garden. Keep them mulched and water as needed to keep the soil moist yet not soggy. In late July or so, you should have tomatoes.

If you would rather start your own plants from seed, do that about 6 to 8 weeks before your last expected frost date. Your county extension should be able to tell you that date as well as help you with the soil tests and suggest tomato varieties known to do particularly well in your local area and soil type.

Enjoy your tomato garden!

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