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Tomato Time

Homegrown 'Maters

Growing Tomatoes

Tomatoes are the most popular spring/vegetable for home gardens. They're fun to grow producing an abundance of juicy, delicious tomatoes. There are so many difference tomatoes varieties, each with their own flavor profile, color and uses. Tomatoes love warm, sunny weather so plant in spring into summer outside in an area that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of sun.

The taste of a homegrown tomato can't be beat; especially when picked right from the garden and it's still warm from the summer sun. Tomatoes are known for being heart- healthy reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer and are also a great source of vitamin C and K, potassium, and folate.

a group of tomatoes on the vine ready for harvest
a close up of food

VIDEO: How to Grow Tomatoes

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VIDEO: Tomato Care Tips

Types of Tomatoes

Determinate tomatoes varieties, which include bush varieties, produce one large bountiful harvest. These are the best tomatoes for growing in containers due to their smaller stature. The tomatoes are produced at the end of the plant stems. This is a great option for those that want to can or freeze tomatoes so it can be done in one large batch. The tomato plants are compact and need a small tomato cage.

Indeterminate tomato varieties tend to get much larger growing 5 to 8 feet tall and are vine-like plants. They continue to produce tomatoes throughout the season. The tomatoes are produced where the leaves meet the stems and are a great option for those wanting fresh tomatoes all summer and even into the fall. Be sure to use a large tomato cage with indeterminate tomato plants to keep them upright so the tomatoes don't hit the ground.

tomatoes spilling out of a basket onto a table

Tomato Uses

When choosing tomatoes think about how you want to enjoy them. Are you looking for a large, meaty tomato for BLT sandwiches, sweet tomatoes for salads, or colorful tomatoes that pop on a plate with fresh mozzarella and basil? Here are the best tomato varieties for various uses.

Salad & Snacking Tomatoes

a close up of a tomato

Grape

An oblong flavorful red tomato reminiscent of loaded clusters of large red grapes. Indeterminate.

a pile of fruit

Super Sweet 100

A classic red cherry tomato packed with sweet flavor. Indeterminate.

yellow tomatoes on a table

Yellow Pear

A high-yielding heirloom variety sporting bright yellow bite-sized tomatoes with slight pear-shape and a tangy taste. Indeterminate.


All Purpose Tomatoes

a bowl of fruit

Better Boy

A nice, large fruit with excellent flavor that produces all summer. Indeterminate.

a pile of fruit sitting on top of a wooden cutting board

Champion

An abundance of large fruit with a rich, homegrown flavor. Indeterminate.


a close up of a tomato

Early Girl

Once of the first tomatoes ready in the garden with great flavor. Indeterminate.

Large Slicing Tomatoes

a close up of a green plant

Beefmaster

Sweet, mild flavor in a large red tomato with beautiful shoulders. Indeterminate.

a close up of a tomato

Beefsteak

Large meaty, rich flavored red tomato with very heavy yields.

a hot dog on a bun

Big Beef

Large, early fruiting tomato with a classic tomato flavor. Indeterminate.

a close up of tomatoes

Brandywine

A huge, dusty pink heirloom tomato with impeccable flavor. Indeterminate.


tomatoes on a table

Cherokee Purple

An old heirloom variety with a dusky purple-pink color, superb sweet flavor, and very-large-sized fruit. Indeterminate.

Cooking & Paste Tomatoes

a box of tomatoes in a garden

Celebrity

A classic red, medium sized tomato with superb taste. Great for growing in a container. Determinate.

a close up of a tomato

Roma

A meaty, oblong tomato with right flavor. Great for growing in a container. Determinate.

Tomato FAQs

It's going to freeze, what should I do?

If the temperature drops into the 30's, tomatoes will need to be protected. First, water the soil well to hydrate the tomato plant and apply a 2-inch layer of mulch to lock in moisture. Around sundown, apply frost cloth and remove in the morning before the sun comes up. The cage will provide good support to create a "tent", keeping the frost cloth off the leaves of the plant. If the plant is taller than the cage, then use any stake to elevate the frost cloth over the top leaves and stems. If the tomato plant has frost damage, make sure to inspect them carefully and remove frost-damaged leaves. Using a pruner or pinching with fingers to cut the leaves off up to the healthy part of the plant.

Why do the flowers on my tomato keep falling off without developing fruit?

Blossom drop can be caused by fluctuating temperatures, but most often is caused by a Calcium deficiency. Adding Gypsum or Bone Meal at the time of planting and mid-way through the growing cycle (6 weeks, or so) will prevent this from happening. You can also use all natural Rot-Stop Tomato Blossom End Rot Spray to quickly add Calcium. Spray from below, up into the open flowers and onto the leaves, as well. While you can't control the weather, you can help prevent blossom drop by keeping your tomato well-watered and keeping them on a consistent fertilizer program.

Why are the bottoms of my tomatoes black?

This is called blossom end rot and is caused by lack of calcium or dry conditions. Adding Gypsum or Bone Meal at the time of planting and mid-way through the growing cycle (6 weeks, or so) will prevent this from happening. Apply all natural Rot-Stop Tomato Blossom End Rot to add calcium and spray on the plants.

Why do my tomatoes keep cracking?

This is caused by inconsistent watering and is common in dry weather. Especially when it's hot, be sure to keep your tomatoes well-watered on a schedule.

I have large, green caterpillars. 

These are called tomato hornworms and they are hungry! They quickly eat foliage and damage fruit. It's important that you treat your tomatoes right away with Bonide BT Thuricide. It's an organic insect spray that controls garden pests while being bird-safe and won't harm beneficial insects. Note that this will not kill the caterpillars immediately. It takes 2-3 days for them to die. Picking them off works, too! Be sure to use all spray remedies early in the morning, or on a cloudy day, and not in the heat of the day to prevent any potential leaf burn.

There’s a sticky substance on my tomato plants leaves and they are starting to curl.

That substance is called "honeydew". Look at the underside of the leaves or on the stems and you'll likely find tiny white, green or yellow bugs. These are aphids and are sometimes so small you can't see them with a human eye. Aphids suck on the foliage and stem tissues. They secrete a sticky, sugary substance called honeydew that falls on the leaves below. To get rid of aphids apply all natural Bonide Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew. Aphids can also be prevented or eliminated with beneficial insects like ladybugs. Ants on your plants are another indicator that aphids are near! They shepherd piercing sucking insects like aphids to harvest the sugary honeydew that they secrete. Sometimes, a black powdery substance grows on the sticky honeydew. Organic Bonide Copper Fungicide can be used to get rid of it. Be sure to use all spray remedies early in the morning, or on a cloudy day, and not in the heat of the day to prevent any potential leaf burn.

Why are the leaves on my tomato curling?

Leaf roll is caused by heat or the soil being too wet. While tomatoes like consistent water they don't want to be in soggy soil. You'll typically see leaf roll on mature leaves at the bottom of your tomato but it can affect up to 75% of the plant. While the leaves don't look good it's not damaging your tomato production. Just make sure you're not overwatering. Another cause could be a tent caterpillar. These larvae create a silky "tent" above themselves as they reside on the underside of the leaves. Over time, the leaf curls around the larvae. Unfurl the leaf and if you see a silky web, then that is the evidence of their presence. An application of Bonide Captain Jacks is the best solution for these. Be sure to use all spray remedies early in the morning, or on a cloudy day, and not in the heat of the day to prevent any potential leaf burn.

Why do the tomato leaves have brown spots? 

You usually see this first on old, mature leaves. You'll see brown spots that develop a yellow right around them and usually cause the entire leaf to yellow and then brown before dropping from the tomato plant. This is caused by a fungus called Alternaria solani that usually lives in the soil. Treat with all natural Bonide Tomato & Vegetable 3-in-1. Increase your drying out periods in between waterings to dry out the soil a bit more. Fungi like wet soil conditions and this can slow down the infestation. Since the fungus lives in the soil avoid planting tomatoes, peppers or eggplant in that spot next year allowing the soil time to refresh. Be sure to use all spray remedies early in the morning, or on a cloudy day, and not in the heat of the day to prevent any potential leaf burn.

Why are there yellow spots on the bottom leaves of my tomato plant?

This is caused by verticillium wilt. The mature, bottom leaves will develop yellow spots that will spread and you'll start to see the leaves veins turn brown. They affected leaves will eventually turn brown and drop and the disease progresses up the stem ultimately stunting the plant. Many tomato varieties are bred to be verticillium wilt resistant since once it effects a plant there's not a cure. The fungus lives in the soil so be sure that you're rotating your crops and refreshing your soil each year.

The leaves on my tomato look moldy.

This is powdery mildew and is easy to identify. The tomato plant leaves will have white spots that may also extend to the stems. It's a type of fungus that is caused by lack of air flow; it's common when growing tomatoes in a greenhouse, but also often appears in coastal areas or in all areas later in the season. The best solution for this is Organic Bonide Copper Fungicide Spray. All natural Bonide Tomato & Vegetable 3-in-1 is a good preventative for this fungus. Be sure to use all spray remedies early in the morning, or on a cloudy day, and not in the heat of the day to prevent any potential leaf burn.

DIY Project Ideas

Create a Victory Garden

Tips for creating a 4x4 ft. plot brimming with tomatoes and more.

DIY Pizza Garden

Everything you need for a tasty pizza grown in a container. Fun for kids!

DIY Griller's Garden

A garden filled with peppers and more to bring out your inner grill master.

DIY Salsa Garden

Plant everything you need to make your own salsa, pico de gallo and hot sauce!

Tomato Recipes

Ladybug Bruschetta Appetizers

This cute appetizer will delight the taste buds of kids and adults alike.

BLT Skewers

Fresh cherry tomatoes with pork belly & lettuce for a tasty summer appetizer!

Caprese Skewers

No cooking needed for these refreshing, light vegetarian-friendly appetizers.