There's really nothing better than a vine-ripened tomato plucked from the plant in your vegetable garden and still warm from the sun. Well, that will come later this season. Now it's time to get your tomato seedlings into the ground, so that you'll have a plentiful harvest in a few weeks and you can start serving all your favorites: BLTs, caprese salad, homemade tomato sauce… better start growing!
Make sure they have good drainage: Tomatoes need well-draining soil or a raised bed for proper drainage. They grow best in slightly acidic soil that's been enriched with compost.
Keep them in the sun: Tomatoes need 8 hours of strong light a day.
Give them plenty of water: Keep them watered, especially as the summer months dry out the soil.
Provide an early support system: Be sure to introduce support even when the plant is still short, so that you don't accidentally damage the roots. Tomato cages are the easiest to use-try galvanized steel for high yielding plants. Or get stackable tomato ladders for tall, indeterminate breeds.
WHAT TO GROW
There are hundreds of tomato varieties out there. What's the best for your needs? Here are five picks that will satisfy.
Hook Mountain Growers' Bush Beafsteak Tomato
An early-ripening variety: With an average ripening time of only 60 days, Bush Beefsteak is a great choice for those with a short growing season. It's a small plant that yields satisfying, hearty fruit.
Burpee's Sun Gold Hybrid Tomato
A great container choice: 'Sungold' is an apricot-color cherry with round, 1 1/4'-large globes that are as sweet as you could ask for. The determinate plant is bred to grow to a compact height.
Landreth Seeds' Anna Russian Tomato
Best tasting: A lovely indeterminate plum, 'Anna Russian' plants produce through even the hottest summer and are crack-resistant. The juicy fruit is delicious and shaped like a heart.
Burpee's Cherokee Purple Tomato
A color other than red: The rich, namesake color and its sweet taste make 'Cherokee Purple' stand out among the traditional reds.
San Marzano Tomato
Paste tomato: Great for making sauce or for canning whole, 'San Marzano' is a plum determinate variety that is very meaty and dry.
For more on landscaping and gardening, consider:
38 Ideas for a Peaceful Garden Refuge
Radio: Garden Journals
Landscaping Made Easy