Growing Tomato

Lycopersicon esculentum : Solanaceae / the nightshade family

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
      T T T            
      P P              

(Best months for growing Tomato in USA - Zone 5a regions)

  • S = Plant undercover in seed trays
  • T = Plant out (transplant) seedlings
  • P = Sow seed
  • Grow in seed trays, and plant out in 4-6 weeks. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 61°F and 95°F. (Show °C/cm)
  • Space plants: 16 - 24 inches apart
  • Harvest in 8-17 weeks.
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Asparagus, Chervil,Carrot, Celery, Chives, Parsley, Marigold, Basil
  • Avoid growing close to: Rosemary, Potatoes, Fennel, Cucumber
  • Tomatoes on plant
  • a)  Seedlings
  • b) 6 weeks old
  • c) Tomato Roma (acid free)

There is nothing like the taste of a freshly picked tomato, warm from the sunshine. In the smallest of gardens or even an apartment with a window-box, it is worth growing at least one tomato plant for the pleasure it will give you. They will grow in pots, troughs or even hanging baskets.

Tomatoes should be grown in shelter or under cover in cool climates.

Tomatoes like lots of food! In a garden bed, compost and mulching will produce a crop from one or two plants. In containers, use some suitable long term fertiliser pellets or feed regularly when you water. Feeding improves the flavour of the fruit.

When you plant out, put the seedlings in a deep holes, up to the top set of leaves. The covered stems will put out extra roots and you will have a stronger, healthier plant.

There are many different varieties of tomatoes but they all have one of two growth habits.


Compact bush growth, stops at a specific height and useful for containers. If left without supporting stakes, they will form a dense carpet which excludes weeds and keeps the soil cool and damp.


Will continue growing a main stem, or vine until stopped by frost. The majority of heirloom tomatoes are indeterminate.

Both types need stakes to give them some support otherwise they will sprawl across the garden.

Varieties include Acid-free, Bush, Tall, Cherry, Yellow and many others.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Tomato

Use in sauces, with fried meals, in sandwiches. Can be frozen whole or in pieces.

Your comments and tips

20 Aug 07, Chris (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
Local advice is to wait until Melbourne Cup day before planting out tomatoes or anything frost sensitive.
30 Aug 07, Norman Genuis (Unknown climate)
Tomatoes - to prune or not to prune. Is the difference between the two just whether you want less quantity of fruit but in bigger size or more quantity with smaller size? Thanks.
31 Aug 07, Chris Hutchinson (Unknown climate)
Clive Blazey in his Diggers Club book "The Australian Vegetable Garden" ( describes how they ran pruning trials and found that pruned plants produced much lower yields (25% in Tigeralla and 33% in Grosse Lisse compared to unpruned). They also found that pruning had no effect on the size of the fruit.
They did find that late pruning tended to produce larger fruit, but with greatly reduced yields.
22 Dec 13, pat (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
I pruned the leaves that turned yellow but the plant in now nearly leavelessr, although theres still tomatoes on it, should I pull it out and start again
28 Nov 07, Judy Ramsey (Unknown climate)
I had some success last year with planting the lateral shoots taken off the main plant (put in water for a few days until roots develop). Great site - very useful
16 Dec 07, Liz Hutchinson (Unknown climate)
Spray tomatoes with copper at least once a fortnight. If the weather is humid and/wet spray weekly to prevent blight. Organic gardeners can use copper. Also mulch well and keep up the deep watering during dry spells.
08 May 08, Audrey (Unknown climate)
I have some cherry tomato vines growing in my garden (left over by previous tenants). I have no idea how to keep them from frostbites since they are growing on the ground instead of pots. But i would love to maintain the vines since it is winter is round the corner. How do i keep them from frostbites? Is there anything that i can buy to cover over them? Would appreciate some advice.
09 May 08, Chris (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
Audrey, you could try piling up tons of mulch around the plants, or covering them with agri-fleece or other frost protection sheeting that nurseries supply. Ordinary clear plastic sheeting can work too, but I've found it needs support, while agri-fleece is light and can be placed directly onto the plants and anchored round the edges.
16 Jun 08, Damian (Unknown climate)
My tomatoes grow really well and are producing lots of fruit but the fruit is getting a brown/grey leathery patch on the bottom of it. Does anyone know what this is and how to stop it?
29 Jun 08, fay from omeo victoria (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
hello i had great tomatoes last season, were too juicy, when i cut them into quarters a lot of juice runs out regards fay
Showing 1 - 10 of 798 comments

Can I plant my tomatoes now and til April 24 without any damage to my plant. I plan on putting straw around them for added protection

- Sandy

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This planting guide is a general reference intended for home gardeners. We recommend that you take into account your local conditions in making planting decisions. Gardenate is not a farming or commercial advisory service. For specific advice, please contact your local plant suppliers, gardening groups, or agricultural department. The information on this site is presented in good faith, but we take no responsibility as to the accuracy of the information provided.
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