Fernlea Flowers | Top Tomato Growing Tips
bright red tomatoes with slice exposed

Tips for growing tomatoes

Sun-ripened tomatoes deliver delicious taste in every bite. Just a few healthy plants will produce buckets of fruit.

Tomatoes run on warmth; plant in late spring and early summer except in Zone 10, where they are a fall and winter crop.

Choosing tomato varieties can be confusing because there are so many, but it’s a good idea to plant some of each for variety and length of season. Varieties resistant to diseases are always a good choice because, of all veggies, tomatoes tend to get the most diseases.

Devote a prime, sunny spot to tomatoes, which will grow into a tall screen of green foliage studded with ripening fruits in mid to late summer.

Tomatoes need at least 8 hours of sun to bring out their best flavours, and you will need to stake, trellis, or cage the sprawling plants to keep them off the ground. Decide on a support plan before you set out your plants.

• Try to space robust, long-vined, indeterminate varieties about 90cm (3′) apart.
• Stocky determinate tomato plants can be grown at tighter 60cm (2′) spacing.
• A single patio tomato plant will nicely fill a 45cm (18″) wide container.

Humid weather creates ideal conditions for fungal diseases like early blight, which causes dark spots to first form on lower leaves. Late blight is a more devastating disease that kills plants quickly; the only way to control it is to protect against it by spraying the leaves with an approved fungicide such as chlorothalonil or copper and to keep the garden clean of tomato and potato debris. Of all crops, tomatoes are the most likely to get problems, but many hybrids have been developed that resists the worst or most prevalent diseases.

Check your variety description in our online catalog to see what diseases it might be resistant to. Often diseases tend to be worse in one region of the country and practically non-existant in another, which is why it’s important to have varieties suited to your area. In mid-summer, big green caterpillars called tomato hornworms eat tomato foliage and sometimes damage fruits. One or two hornworms can strip a plant leafless.

As tomatoes begin to ripen, their color changes from vibrant medium-green to a lighter shade, with faint pink or yellow stripes. These “breakers,” or mature green tomatoes, can be chopped into salsas, pickled, or pan-fried into a crispy appetizer. Yet tomato flavors become much more complex as the fruits ripen, so you have good reason to wait.

The exact signs of ripeness vary with variety, but in general, perfectly ripe tomatoes show deep color yet still feel firm when gently squeezed. Store picked tomatoes at room temperature indoors, or in a shady place outside.

We don’t recommend storing tomatoes in your refrigerator. This is because temperatures below 12°C (55°F) cause their precious flavor compounds to break down.

Read the latest from the Garden Club

Get fresh gardening tips and expert product knowledge from our team.

garden trowel and gardening gloves