How To Grow Tomatoes

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Tomatoes are one of the most popular garden plants out there, and for good reason. They are extremely easy to grow, and can be used in a wide variety of cuisines. And if you’ve ever plucked a sweet, juicy tomato straight out of the garden for a snack on a hot summer day, well, there’s just no going back.

Tomatoes love sunshine and air—the two things almost everyone has access to. They are highly adaptable and grow in a wide range of climates zones (lookin’ at you zones 1-24!). They’re happiest in moderately fertile soil, but can grow in almost anything as long as it isn’t heavy with clay. Give your plants at least 6-8 hours of full sunlight each day… and wait about two weeks after the last frost.

What You Need


  • Tomato plants
  • Compost
  • Tomato cage
  • Garden markers (popsicle sticks work great too!)


  • Garden tools
  • Watering can


Before planting, pull off any small branches, and even any larger branches that are towards the bottom of the plant as long as you leave a few good branches at the top.

Mix 4″-6″ of compost in with your soil. Make sure it’s pre-moistened before putting in your plants.

Remove the tomato from its container and place it in a fairly deep hole— some tomato growers place their plants so that a full 2/3 of the plant is underground. So go ahead and bury the stem quite a ways up, especially since you plucked off the smaller, lower branches. This will give the plant a nice, strong start. If any leaves or branches are touching the ground, place a cage around your plant for support.

Space your tomatoes at least 24″ apart (especially if they are caged) leaving 2′-3′ between rows. If you are planting your tomatoes in a container, you’ll need 2 1/2 gallons of soil for each plant, so consider this when determining how many plants to put in each container.

Label your newly planted crop (corks, bamboo skewers and popsicle sticks are great options!), make sure the soil is kept moist (but not wet) and look for sprouts to emerge in 7-10 days!

Water your tomato plants daily, aiming towards the base of the plant and try to get the soil as evenly wet as possible. If watering tomatoes in a container you might need to water more often, especially if you are in a dry climate. Early morning is always the best time to water your plants.

Harvest your tomatoes when they turn bright red and are just a bit soft to the touch. When they are ripe and ready to be picked, snip the vine with scissors, or gently pluck them.