Grow Better Tomatoes

For most of the country, May is tomato-planting time. There’s really no reason to rush to plant your tomatoes in spring—unless you live in warm parts of Texas, Florida, Arizona, and Southern California, where you are probably eating tomatoes already.

For everyone else, it is important to wait until the soil warms and dries and to take the time to build up fertility for this fast-growing veggie. Here are some tips to help you grow the best tomatoes this year:

Although it’s too late to start tomatoes from seed, we carry a wide selection of tomato plants including heirlooms, patio tomatoes and unique varieties. Look for varieties that fit your location, and mix and match cherry, plum, and slicing varieties.

  • Amend your soil by working in a 1- to 2-inch-deep layer of compost. Make raised beds on heavy soils, and if the fertility is poor, consider increasing your compost to 3 to 4 inches deep.
  • Harden off your tomato transplants even if they were grown locally. Place them outdoors in a partly shaded location protected from winds for a few hours the first day. Move them inside and each day extend the amount of time outdoors until after five days they’re outside overnight.
  • If your tomatoes are tall and leggy, bury the stems up to the first set of true leaves. Tomatoes have the ability to root all along the stem and form a stronger plant.
  • For determinate and indeterminate varieties, stake or cage the plants when young to support them when they’re older. Placing the stakes and cages now prevents you from harming the roots later.
  • Keep plants well watered and fertilize every three weeks with an all-purpose organic plant food.