Your Tomato Guide – Planting, Harvesting, Recipes + More


Tomatoes are a plump, juicy, red FRUIT. Contrary to popular belief, the tomato is 1000%, not a vegetable. It can be difficult to imagine the tomato as a fruit, since it is typically used in savory dishes, and you probably wouldn’t want to put a tomato in your fruit salad, but facts are facts. With over 10,000 tomato varieties available you are sure to find a favorite.

The tomato plant is part of the Nightshade family (potato, tobacco, chili peppers) and was first domesticated around 500 BC by Aztecs.

The most important thing to remember when planting and growing tomatoes is they. need full sun, rich soil, and warm temperatures.

Best outdoor temperature for growing tomatoes?

The weather is warming up, which means it’s time to plant your tomatoes! Tomatoes do not fair well with cold weather, so keep these babies away from the cold and shade. The best-growing temperatures linger around 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal nighttime temperatures range from 59 to 68 degrees. cool nighttime temperatures can interfere with the tomato plants’ ability to convert sunlight int sugars through the process of photosynthesis and can reduce pollen production.

Conversely, when nighttime temperatures soar above 70 degrees , tomato plants send to produce fewer blossoms and the blossoms often drop before the become pollinated. All this being said, tomatoes planted in movable containers can extend your growing season for this beloved fruit.

What is the best way to harvest tomatoes? 

Sometimes, the trickiest part of growing is knowing when you should harvest. With tomatoes, you can choose if you want to let the plant ripen on the vine or if you want to pick them when they’re green and ripen indoors. 

Technically, letting tomatoes ripen on the vine will result in better flavor, but sometimes that is not always the best option, depending on climate and growing conditions. 

If you need to harvest before they are their full color, pick when your tomatoes are a mature green and just beginning to develop a blush of color. Tomatoes color first from their base, so keep an eye on the base of the tomato. When the base of the green tomato starts to turn another color, your green tomato can be picked and successfully ripened indoors.

A tomato plant is fully ripe when it’s come into its color entirely. Whether your tomatoes are red, yellow, or orange, wait until the color covers the entire tomato. The texture should be firm — if your tomato is soft, it is overripe and needs to be picked immediately. 

To actually harvest your tomatoes, grasp the fruit firmly, yet gently with one hand and hold the stem with your other. Pull from the plant. Try to break the stalk just above the calyx, which is the small green leaves or “hat” right where the tomato connects to the stalk. You can also use scissors or hand pruners to cut the stalk just above the calyx.

Once you harvest your tomato it will keep longer if you store it with its stem down.

How much light do tomatoes need to grow?

Tomatoes absolutely THRIVE in the sunlight. Give them as much time outside as possible for the best results. They want the full light of the day if they can have it (up to 8 hours!). So, make sure you plant them in a well-lit, exposed area where they can reach the sun’s rays. 

Tomatoes need a lot of sun since the plant transform sunlight into energy, the energy they need to bloom and produce fruits. If you live in an area with a lot of heat, morning sunshine is best and if you are in a cooler climate morning and afternoon sun are perfect for your tomato plants.

Should I water tomatoes every day?

Yes! Since our tomato friends love to bask in the sun, they also need lots of hydration to keep their soil moist and rich. Think about when you are laying out by the pool, your body needs more water to feel lively and energetic! You can start by watering your tomato plants early in the morning every day, but as temperatures increase, you may want to move into a twice-a-day watering regimen to ensure optimal soil conditions. 

Early in the growing season, water your tomato plants daily in the morning. If temperatures soar over 85 degrees they will benefit from afternoon hydration as well. Remember to always water your tomatoes at the roots. Watering the leaves can often cause disease. The best rule of thumb when watering your tomato plants is slowly and deeply.

Let’s talk taste.

We cannot talk about the taste of tomatoes unless we also touch on the texture. A good, well-grown tomato has a unique texture that is fleshy, soft, firm, and crisp, all at the same time. This is what separates a good tomato from a great tomato. It is all about the texture. The actual taste of a tomato is oten described as sweet, tart, tangy and balanced, making it a welcome addition to just about any dish, from curry to eggs to soup to salad to pizza. It is sweet, tangy, tart, and vibrant. 

Americans obtain more vitamins from tomatoes than from any other vegetable. Tomatoes have a wealth of vitamin content, including 18 mg of calcium, 427 mg of potassium and 43 mg of phosphorus. One cup of chopped or sliced raw tomatoes contain about 32 calories, 1.58 grams of protein, 2.2 grams of fiber and 0 grams of cholesterol. Often referred to as a nutrient-dense superfood that supports healthful skin, weight loss, and heart health. For additional information on the nutritional benefits of tomatoes visit Medical News Today.

What is the best way to plant tomatoes?

Not to be biased, but the best way to plant tomatoes is definitely in a container. Tomatoes have a tendency to become unruly, and planting individual plants in separate containers allow for more care, love, and nurturing for a more successful harvest!

We are Pros at Growing. So, this is the best practice for a bountiful harvest. 

  1. If you are growing your tomatoes in a mobile container, you can bring them inside at night when indoor temperatures are below 65 degrees.
  2. Plant your tomato plant as deep as you can and your plant will thrive. Burying your tomato plants deep into the soil helps them form a more robust root system. When you look at your tomato stem closely you will see what looks like tiny hairs, these are roots prior to development, called adventitious roots that form on the upper part of the plant- the stem.
  3. Dig the hold for your tomato plant to accommodate the root ball and most of the stem.
  4. Did you know eggshells provide a calcium boost for your tomato plants? Calcium is great for preventing blossom end rot. After making eggs in the kitchen, wash and dry the eggshells. From here, grind the shells to make a powder, then blend this powder with your soil. 
  5. Tea leaves and coffee grounds are a great way to provide a small nitrogen boost to your plants. If you’re feeling extra creative, you can also throw any pet hair or human hair onto the soil; be sure to cut up the hair finely, so it will mix into the soil. Hair provides keratin, which is a protein that your tomato crop will greatly appreciate.
  6. Your tomatoes will thank you if you use mulch around the main stem of the plant, and across the garden bed. This is because it will protect the lowest-hanging fruit from developing rot as it touches the ground. 
  7. When you plant, immediately insert a support system, such as a stake, for your plants. If you wait to do so, you may disturb the roots.
  8. Keeping your plants sufficiently watered is essential when it comes to producing a healthy and strong harvest. Be sure to keep your watering can handy because you do not want to let the soil of your tomatoes dry out. 
  9. Pruning tomato suckers at the time of planting and throughout its season is needed. Carefully grasp the base of the sucker between the thumb and forefinger, pinch it back for simple pruning.
  10. Pruning tomato suckers is often recommended so that the new stem growth will not compete with nutrients. It also makes your plants a little more manageable. And, the earlier you prune tomato suckers the easier it is.

What are good growing companions for tomatoes? 

The best companion plants for tomatoes are as follows:

  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • Lettuce
  • Sage
  • Asparagus
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Chives
  • Carrots
  • Onion
  • Marigolds

Whatever you do, do not grow your tomatoes near cabbage, corn, dill, peppers, or potatoes. Those plants do not play well with our lovely tomatoes. 

Three Tomato Harvest Recipes

Are tomatoes good for you? 

Tomatoes are technically a nightshade plant, which has a tendency to get a bad rep. Contrary to popular belief, nightshades are NOT cancerous and do NOT cause joint pain or inflammation Quite the opposite, tomatoes are rich in antioxidants, as they are flavorful. They contain minerals that complement skin health and contain Vitamin K to support bone health. 

What’s in a name? 

The mighty tomato is an ancient plant going all the way back to the Aztec times. They began their growth journey in the Andes of Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, and eventually made their way across the pond to Europe. The Aztecs called the tomato, “tomatl”, which literally means “the swelling fruit.” 

What is one thing you might not know about tomatoes? 

For quite some time, a huge percentage of Europeans feared the tomato! According to the Smithsonian Magazine, “a nickname for the fruit was the “poison apple” because it was thought that aristocrats got sick and died after eating them”, however, the reason people were dying was due to the plates that Europeans used contained high amounts of lead. The mixture of “tomatoes [being] high in acidity, when placed on this particular tableware, the fruit would leach lead from the plate, resulting in many deaths from lead poisoning.” It was not until the pizza was invented in the 1880s that people began to lose their irrational fear of the tomato. 

A Few Tomato Fun Facts

It is believed Tomatoes originally came from Peru.

The largest tomato on record was picked in Oklahoma, in 1986. It weighed over 7.7 pounds.

Tomato seedlings have been grown in space.

Tomatoes are the official state vegetable of New Jersey.

94.5% of tomato’s weight is water.

96% of those gardening in the U.S. grow tomatoes.

96% of the American processed tomato production comes from California. Florida is the leader in the production and sale of fresh market tomatoes.

Americans have increased their consumption of tomatoes by 30% over the last 20 years.

Salsa has replaced ketchup as the top selling condiment in the United States.

Refrigeration decreases flavor and quality of tomatoes.