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The best time to grow tomatoes is early spring or late winter by starting them indoors. Since tomatoes have such a long growing season it is often necessary to start them early in order to get a head start, especially if you live somewhere with a shorter growing season.
Start tomato seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last spring frost date, in individual starter cells, small pots or peat pellets, covering with 0.5-1 cm (1/4″-1/2″) of soil. Seeds should sprout in 7-14 days.
Tomato seedlings can be hardened off and transplanted outdoors once night time temperatures reach 10 degrees Celsius. When transplanting, bury the stem up to the first set of leaves to encourage a strong root system.
Alternative to growing from seed, tomato seedlings can be bought in the spring time from most nurseries.
Most tomato plants need a large size pot, 12″ wide by 12″ deep at minimum. However, there are several dwarf or patio varieties that have been created especially for growing in small spaces, and hence can be grown in a smaller container. If planting regular varieties in larger containers, leave at least 45 cm (18″) between plants.
To eliminate the guesswork in selecting the right size containers for your plants, we’ve put together a list of commonly grown herbs, veggies, fruit and flowers along with the minimum pot sizes required by each.
Starting a container garden? Grab my free guide on choosing the best sized pots for each veggie, fruit, and herb in your container garden – Veggie Garden Potting Guide
Keep well and consistently watered. Tomatoes are very thirsty plants, so you will have to water them often.
Tomatoes are also very heavy feeders. Add granulated fertilizer to the soil when planting, or water every couple weeks with an all purpose liquid fertilizer several times throughout the growing season.
Where Can I Grow It?
Grow tomatoes wherever you can provide them with the most sun and heat — the more the better. Most tomatoes are quite large plants, and will need the space provided by the outdoors. However, there are some dwarf varieties such as the ‘Tiny Tim’ that can grow in a small pot on a windowsill, or even hanging upside down in a hanging planter.
If you have the space and want to experiment with different types and different varieties, we recommend this variety pack of 15 best-selling tomatoes from Seeds Now.
Tomato Growing Tips
There are two types of tomato plant:
- Determinate (Bush): A compact bush that grows to a certain size and then stops. May require support such as a cage, unless it is a very small dwarf variety. Fruit are generally set all at once, and then no new fruit are produced.
- For determinate plants: Suckers are generally not removed, as the plant grows to a predetermined size and will not spend too much energy in growing new branches.
2. Indeterminate (Vine): A climbing vine that can grow very tall. Requires staking or other support. Produces fruit over a loner period of time.
- For indeterminate plants: Remove any suckers (stems growing from the crotch of between the main stem and a branch) to encourage the plant to put its energy into crop production instead of leaf production.
Both types of tomato plant can be grown in containers, but keep in mind their different growing habits when deciding which to plant!
Tomatoes play well with a lot of other plants, so you can grow tomatoes together with any of the following for beneficial effects: Brassicas (cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli), roses, peppers, basil, beans, oregano, parsley, onions, leeks, chives, marigolds, nasturtiums, cilantro, carrots, eggplant, mint, thyme, garlic, geraniums, and sage.
You should avoid planting tomatoes too close to peas, chili peppers, dill, potatoes or rosemary, and they may have a detrimental effect on each other. For example, chili peppers tend to attract tomato whiteflies which may infest the tomato plant.