There’s nothing like the taste of a fresh tomato picked straight from your garden on a hot summer’s day in August – cherry, beefsteak, plum or heritage varieties in shades of red, yellow or green – they are all so juicy and flavourful and so much better than the supermarket selection! We are lucky here in southern Ontario to have a great climate for growing tomatoes outdoors and with such a huge selection of varieties, there is sure to be a tomato to suit every taste! Follow a few tips to grow amazing tomatoes in containers or in the ground this season.
Grow Amazing Tomatoes
- Pick a spot in full sun. Tomatoes need the heat and sun to ripen.
- If growing in the ground, improve your soil with compost or manure. If growing in a container, use good quality potting soil in a pot with drainage holes. The pot should be at least 16” in diameter as most tomatoes plants grow quite large.
- Pick your numbers and varieties. How many tomatoes are you going to eat? Are you planning on canning or just eating fresh? I grow about 18 plants in my garden, but probably about 6 to 8 tomato plants is adequate for a family who likes tomatoes but is not doing any canning. As for varieties, do you like cherry tomatoes, beefsteak, plum for sauces? How about trying some heritage tomatoes that come in a range of colours and sizes with names like Big Rainbow, Emerald Evergreen or Purple Russian?
- Plant when all danger of frost has past and the ground is warming up. If you plant too early you will not gain any advantage as they will only survive, not actively grow. I plant my tomatoes mid June into very warm ground and they give me a great crop.
- Plant deep – up to the 2nd or 3rd set of leaves. The buried stem will grow roots and give a sturdier, healthier plant. Water well after planting.
- Stake or cage your tomato plants to provide support.
- If you have prepared your soil well, fertilizer should not be necessary, but if you have poor soil use a tomato fertilizer. We carry an organic, pelletted type which you can sprinkle on top of the soil once a month. If you are growing in a container, you should definitely fertilize.
- Water as required through the growing season. Watering in the early morning or evening is ideal. Tomatoes are fairly drought tolerant plants – remember, they like it hot and dry, so be careful not to overwater.
- Keep a watch for any bugs or diseases. The tomato hornworm is a caterpillar that can do a lot of damage – although they are certainly very cool creatures to observe.
- Your tomato plants will produce flowers all season, which will turn into fruit. Fruit is green at first, then gradually matures into the fully ripened colour.
Towards the end of the season, if you have a lot of green fruit which may not have time to ripen you can take some foliage off your plant to allow extra sun to reach the fruit.