Fine Gardening’s Guide to Growing Great Tomatoes

Too many tomatoes? Try processing some for storage or giving extras away to friends and neighbors. Photo: Michelle Provaznik

Is there anything more magical than the first perfectly ripe tomato of summer? If you have harvested this iconic summer fruit from your own plants, you know it is one of the world’s best and most affordable luxuries. Below is a collection of articles and videos to guide you in growing great tomatoes this year.

Tomato plants are generally vigorous and undemanding. Even a beginner can grow a successful crop if a few basic needs are covered:

Sunlight  Your plants will need at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun every day to produce fruit. Northern gardeners can plant in full sun, but in hotter climates a spot with afternoon shade may be best.

Water  To get young plants off to a good start and to keep established plants productive, deep, regular watering is the key. Consistent moisture allows plants to make efficient use of soil nutrients and improves fruit quality.

Food  Amending the soil with an organic fertilizer specifically formulated for tomatoes is a great way to give plants the nutrients they need. For a midseason boost, try side-dressing with compost.

Space  Though dwarf varieties are available, most tomato plants grow to be quite large. Determinate varieties generally get 3 to 4 feet tall, while indeterminate plants grow to be at least 6 to 8 feet tall. Proper spacing ensures good airflow and reduces competition for light, water, and nutrients.

Support and Pruning  Left to their own devices, most plants will ramble and sprawl, turning your tidy tomato patch into a tangled mess. Staking or caging will make weeding, watering, and harvesting easier. Well-supported plants are also easier to prune, which helps to boost yields and keep plants healthy.


Fine Gardening has been helping gardeners grow better tomatoes for decades. We have collected the resources below to help you harvest a great crop whether you are a first-time grower or a seasoned green thumb. Happy reading—and happy growing!


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Tips and Tricks for Starting Seeds

Pruning Tools and Techniques

Tips for Creating, Maintaining, and Using a Cutting Flower Garden

Gardening for Pollinators