When growing tomatoes it is best to start with transplants.
You can get some tomato starts from your local farmers market, or start
them yourself at home. Once you have your starts, only plant the
strongest ones. Bury the starts down deep in average or better
garden soil. They
thrive with lots of sun, and when it's between 70-75 F, so put
them in the ground when there is no chance of frost. Water them
really well after you plant them, and give them a good soaking once a
week if it gets too dry. Water them at the roots, not on the leaves,
in the morning or evening. After a good soaking, mulch your tomatoes
heavily to help retain the moisture. Mulch also helps keep the
fruit that may be touching the ground from rotting.
If you are growing tomato varieties that
are short and compact, just mulch around the plants and pick your tomatoes
as they ripen. The
tomato varieties that just keep vining and sprawling can be staked, trellised,
caged, or grown up along fences. Loosely tie the plants to their
support = system if necessary to keep them of the ground. These
vining varieties can also be pruned to help focus their energy on growing
fruits and not vines. Prune the suckers that appear between the
main stem and the leaf axils. Keep only two or three vines for
the biggest fruit production.
Never plant your tomatoes in the same spot they were
in last year, or you are asking for pest problems. Tomatoes like
to be in slightly acidic soil, pH. 6-7. They also need a lot of
trace elements like calcium, which can be provided by ground up egg shells.
Companion planting chives, African Marigolds, onions, parsley, asparagus,
nasturtiums, basil, or carrots with your tomatoes will help create beneficial
environments for them. Don't plant potatoes and fennel near
your plants, because they are not complimentary.
I like to grow different varieties of tomatoes
for different reasons. I grow lots of paste tomatoes (Polish Past) for
canning homemade salsas and sauces. I grow less of the slicer varieties
(Early Girl and Big Boy), but enough to have tomato sandwiches in the
cherry tomato varieties (Tiny Tims) are usually just sprouting up out
of the backyard compost pile, and grow without much attention.