5-12 (Find your hardiness zone.)
When to Plant:
If starting tomatoes from seed, begin determinate varieties indoors six weeks before the last frost date; start indeterminate varieties eight weeks prior to that date. Many nurseries and home improvement stores have starter plants available, which you can plant in the garden after all danger of frost has passed.
Enhance the soil with compost, rotted manure, straw, or even rotted leaves. The ideal soil is slightly acidic or neutral. Full sun is necessary for tomatoes.
Plant caged or staked plants (see below) 24 inches apart in rows 3 feet apart.
Tomatoes will need either a "tomato cage" (available at nurseries and garden centers) or stakes to support them. Water adequately but do not overdo it. Mulch below the plant with some straw to help reduce water stress after the soil has warmed. Continue to re-secure the plants to their cages (with twist ties, twine or fabric strips) or stakes as they grow.
When to Harvest:
Harvest to your desired liking as soon as the tomato begins showing color. Tomatoes will continue to ripen off the vine.
Yield varies by type, but 2 plants can feed a family of 4 throughout the summer.
Difficulty Rating (1-5):
Fruit and Vegetable Gardening A-Z: Tomatoes
A Guide to Gardening, Growing, and Harvesting Edibles
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