Tomatoes are the most popular garden vegetables in America, which is not surprising. No matter how you eat them – raw, stewed, sliced, sauced, in a salad, on a burger, or in a prepared dish – they offer luscious taste and wholesome goodness. They provide healthy doses of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, beta-carotene, and lycopene. Recent research has linked tomato consumption to reduced risk of heart attack and prevention of certain types of cancer. And just a few plants will produce enough tomatoes to keep your family supplied all season.
The requirements for growing healthy tomato plants are few:
- Give them full sun – at least 6 hours of direct sun per day.
- Plant them in rich soil with plenty of organic matter (.
- Keep the soil moist, but not soaked, and keep the plants’ leaves dry.
- Feed them with a balanced plant food every other week.
You can successfully grow great tomatoes in the ground (after working in the organic matter) or in containers. If you’re using containers, select pots that have drainage holes in the bottom and are at least 12 inches wide. That will give the roots plenty of room to grow and keep them from drowning. Using stakes, a trellis, or tomato cages will help keep the plants growing upright and will make harvesting much easier.
Your local garden center or county extension office can suggest tomato varieties that will thrive under your area’s growing conditions.