All About Growing Tomatoes

Learn how to plant, grow and harvest tomatoes, plus peruse our recommended tomato varieties.

| February/March 2011

tomato varieties

Try growing some of these beautiful tomato varieties in your vegetable garden (from left to right): ‘Green Zebra,’ ‘San Marzano,’ ‘Brandywine,’ ‘Cherokee Purple,’ ‘Mr. Stripey,’ ‘Juliet,’ ‘Yellow Pear’ and ‘Black Cherry.’ 

Illustration by Keith Ward

(For details on growing many other vegetables and fruits, visit our Crop at a Glance collection page.)

The exquisite flavor and irresistible juiciness of homegrown tomatoes put them at or near the top of most gardeners’ planting lists. Fruit size, color and flavor differ with each variety, but all tomatoes grow best under warm conditions. For the best flavor, provide fertile, organically enriched soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5, and plant your tomatoes in a site that gets plenty of sun.

Tomato Types to Try

Many organic gardeners include varieties of the following three types of tomatoes in their gardens each year.

Cherry tomatoes and salad tomatoes produce small fruits in a rainbow of colors and an array of shapes, including round, pear-shaped and teardrop-shaped.

Slicing tomatoes are round and juicy, making them ideal for eating fresh. Fruit size and color vary, and some varieties produce surprisingly large fruits.

Paste tomatoes, also called canning tomatoes, have dense flesh and little juice, so they are the best type for cooking, canning and drying.

8/5/2017 2:53:36 PM

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4/3/2016 6:25:57 PM

Why doesn't MEN have a search feature for archival articles? I'm looking for how-to-grow tomatoes upside down.

8/28/2014 6:46:15 AM

I have 6 tomato plants in cages, and now staked because they are so laden with fruit. BUT they are mostly green - even though large - some the size of a large orange. Now turning orange, but if I wait to pick them when they are fully ripe the bugs or something else get to them first. Should I pick them orange and windowsill ripen them? Will they be as good on the inside - meaty and delicious? Should I leave a piece of the stem to nourish them while ripening? Ot just take my chances on the vine...

7/21/2014 1:05:05 AM

I am having my most successful year to date with tomatoes, and have the dilemma of not planning for their upward growth. I have used large premade tomato cages in the past, but they are not tall enough. My husband thinks I should cut them off and just grow the lower branches, but I don't want to do this unless I have to. Want them tomatoes! What can you suggest?

9/28/2013 7:31:16 PM

I would like to know how to freeze tomatoes do I put them whole in baggies or what.

7/31/2013 8:47:10 AM

John, I always buy the tallest plants I can if I must buy some. I think I get better yields from the tall ones planted deep, or planted in a trench.

7/18/2013 7:38:52 PM

I hadn't heard this before "Plant tomatoes deeper than they grew in their containers, so that only the top five or six leaves show at the surface" thanks for the great info I'll give it a try


morgan Shore
2/20/2013 8:27:54 PM

I've learnt so much just by reading through all this information. I can't wait to try and grow the best tomato plants ever this year. I believe that i can after seeing this article, especially added with the tips i found over at The Blooming Oasis The Blooming Oasis

Barbara Pleasant_3
4/28/2011 9:28:48 AM

Tina, you can either wait out the situation and hope the plants exhaust their nutrient supply soon, or try a crude emergency measure known as root pruning. Using a knife or small sharp spade, make 2-3 downward slices in the soil about 12 inches from the base of the plant. This will sever some roots, immediately reducing the plants' nutrient supply and hopefully shocking them into reproductive mode. Good luck!

Gina Tigner
4/25/2011 12:41:11 PM

I am having an issue with my tomatoes. Seems they won't set fruit. I tested the soil and the nitrogen is too high. I also tested my water, seems it's too high also. What do I do?

3/11/2011 10:28:37 PM

I froze a couple grocery bags of washed, dried, unwrapped Roma tomatoes at the end of the season a few years ago because I'd already had canned tons of tomatoes and didn't have time to can more but didn't want them to waste. When I used them to make fresh tomato sauces that winter I discovered the skins slipped more easily and with less 'meat' waste than with the traditional boiling water/cold water dip method. Now I freeze all of the tomatoes before canning them, even if only overnight. I either dip them in room-temp water or spread them in a single layer to slightly thaw the skins. You want Only the skins to thaw. After skinning and thawing to a frosty stage I quarter them and easily remove the watery seed portion, place them in a colander in the sink to drain as they thaw then cook the thickest, most labor-free salsas and sauces imaginable. A bonus is that this method saves cooking fuel and adds less heat to your already hot August kitchen.

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