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 16°C and 35°C. (Show °F/in)
  • Space plants: 40 - 60 cm 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
  • 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 need feeding. 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 also 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 760 comments

More information is needed: for example amount of water... soil conditions. The MOST GENERIC, and probably most correct answer is LACK OF NUTRIENTS. Most people plant their plants (tomato) adding lots of compost and/or manure at the time of planting. The plant grows using the nutrients (some are washed away... maybe trees manage to confiscate some nutrients); but as the soil nutrition drops, the plant, still wanting to grow, starts to take nutrition from its lower leaves so it can grow leaves higher up. That is, it is deciding how to best used it's own self to maximize it chances of success; since it can't source the needed nutrition from the soil What you need to do is: ADD manure or compost or anything else you may have to put nutrition back into the soil. I rinse my coffee pot in the garden, I also try to drain things (like the water from soaking dried beans) into the garden. Manure/compost/nutrition (in any form) needs to be added at planting, middle of the season, and close to the end of the season to give that LAST burst of energy to bring the fruit/vegetables into full form. Don't feel like you need to spend a lot of money; get creative; in Canada we can stop by our local coffee shops and pick up the days used grinds for use in our gardens (free); you can add micro nutrients to your garden by filling a pail with water and adding a layer of rocks (rocks are minerals) stir and use this to water your plants. Left over tea bags, left over coffee grinds, stuff that you might rinse down the sink (food juices), blood from meat when you wash it before cooking it ..... anything like that all puts nutrition back in the soil.

- Celeste Archer

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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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