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a bowl of fruit and vegetable salad

Basics of Growing Tomatoes

How to Plant Tomatoes

Growing tomatoes is easy and you'll be rewarded with juicy, flavorful tomatoes you can use on sandwiches, in salads or salsa and more. Visit your neighborhood Pike Nurseries and let us help you pick the perfect tomatoes for your garden.

a screenshot of tomato video - click to play

Find a Sunny Spot

  • Tomatoes need at least 6 hours of sunlight
  • If there's not a sunny spot in your garden you can also grow tomatoes in a large pot

Choose Your Tomato

  • There are two basic types of tomatoes: determinate & indeterminate
  • Determinate: All blossoms and fruit develop on the plant at about the same time. Harvest time is short. The plant is self-topping and does not continue growth from the terminal bud.
  • Indeterminate: The terminal bud of an indeterminate tomato does not set fruit, it always produces leaves and more stem from the growing tip. The vine can grow indefinitely if not killed by frost in the fall. The blossoms and fruit develop progressively as the vine grows so tomatoes in all stages of development may be on the vine at one time and harvest may last several months. These are the most common.
tomatoes on vine

Plant Your Tomato

  • Make sure you have good soil with nutrients the plants need to establish a healthy root system.
  • Good soil will provide the plant with proper drainage so it gets enough water but it's not sitting in water which would cause the roots to rot.

In the Garden

  • Amend soil with Pike Vegetable and Flower Mix at a 50/50 ratio with the native soil. This breaks up the dense clay soil, improves drainage and aeration, and allows tender new roots to grow.

In a Pot

  • Use Pike Potting & Container Soil, which has wetting agents to prevent pots from drying out too quickly.

Tomato Cage

  • Tomatoes get large quickly! Place a Tomato cage on your tomato as soon as it's planted. This will keep the fruit from bending/breaking the stems and keep the fruit off the ground (which could cause rot).

a bowl of fruit and vegetable salad

Care Tips


  • After planting, water the tomato plants extremely well. Thereafter, water only when the soil indicates the necessity of watering.
  • As a general rule of thumb, water your tomatoes often enough to keep the soil cool and slightly moist.
  • It's important to keep tomatoes on a regular watering schedule. Irregular watering can cause the fruit to split.


  • Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so regular fertilizing is important for a bountiful crop.
  • We recommend Dr. Earth Tomato, Vegetable, and Herb Fertilizer, which is certified organic.
  • Apply 6 weeks during the growing season.
  • Dry fertilizer should never touch the main stem and should be lightly cultivated into the soil.

picking tomatoes