Tips On Growing Tomatoes Successfully

Growing Tomatoes Successfully is a little like raising children, they both need nourishment, a warm home environment, and tender loving care. Whether you want to grow several rows of heirloom  tomatoes in a large vegetable garden in the country or just one cherry tomato plant in a pot on your sunny patio or balcony, the requirements for successfully growing tomatoes are the same. You will need seeds, containers, a good seed starting mix, water, plenty of light, warmth, and a little of your time. After a few months, the tomato plants you have lovingly cared for like little children should provide you with a bounty of tomatoes that you can enjoy throughout summer and into early fall.

A Bounty Of Tomatoes

A Bounty Of Tomatoes

Early each spring, I like to order my tomato seeds from one of the many online garden supply companies. They have hundreds of varieties of tomatoes that are not available as tomato transplants at my local garden center. I start my seeds indoors 8 weeks before I plan to plant them in my garden. In my area of New England, that means I start my seeds on the 1st of April and plant the tomatoes outdoors around the end of May when the threat of frost has passed. If I were to sow my tomato seeds directly in my garden in May, the tomatoes would take so long to grow that the first killing frost sometime in October would destroy the plants before I could get even one ripe tomato.

Starting Tomato Seeds

Starting Tomato Seeds

I plant the seeds in a light seed starting mix, water and cover the containers with kitchen plastic wrap. The seeds don’t need light to germinate but they do need warm soil so they need to be placed near a warm sunny window, on top of a refrigerator or special heating mats made for seed germination. This year I put them in a closet where the TV cable box provided the seeds with constant warmth. The majority of the seeds germinated in 5 days, much faster than in the past when I’ve placed them near a sunny window.

Tomato Seedlings Under Florescent Light

Tomato Seedlings Under fluorescent Light

The seedlings need 12 to 16 hours of light so once I saw tiny green sprouts, the plastic wrap was removed and they went under a fluorescent shop light. The light needs to be adjusted as they grow, staying about 3 inches above the plants. If you grow your seedlings by a sunny window, be sure to rotate the pots daily so that the plants will grow straight.

When the tomato seedlings are 3 or 4 inches tall and have their second pair of leaves, they go out to my potting shed to continue to grow. The potting shed is heated because the young plants need to be kept at about 65 to 70 degrees until they are ready to go into the garden. The shed gets lots of natural light from north and south facing windows and a skylight in its roof but I still use a fluorescent light over the young plants.

Now that they are 4 inches tall, they are ready to be transplanted into 4 inch pots. After carefully removing the little plant from its original growing cell, I gently loosen the roots at the base and around the sides of the root ball with a thin bamboo skewer. This will allow the young plant to quickly adjust to its new pot. Since the tomato stem can develop roots, each seedling is replanted right up to the lowest set of leaves. I continue to use the light seed starting mix even when potting up to a 6 inch pot as it lets the roots spread easily compared to regular potting soil which is denser and more compact.

Transplant Into 4 And 6 Inch Pots According To Growth Rate

Transplant Into 4 And 6 Inch Pots According To Growth Rate

Even though you plant all your seeds at the same time, you will notice that each seedling may grow at a different rate and they will have to be transplanted according to how quickly they grow.

Tomato Plants Being Hardened Off Outside The Potting Shed

Tomato Plants Being Hardened Off Outside The Potting Shed

You might call me an over protective parent as my tomato plants have spent their short lives protected from the cold, winds and rain in the warm, sunny potting shed. Because of that, they won’t do well if they go straight into the garden without being “hardened off”.

Harden Off The Tomato Plants Outside For Several Hours Each Day BeFore Planting In The Garden

Harden Off The Tomato Plants Outside For Several Hours Each Day BeFore Planting In The Garden

About two weeks before I intend to plant the tomatoes in the garden, I carry the plants outdoors for a few hours a day for a week, setting them in a sunny but protected spot that doesn’t get too much wind. During the second week, I leave them outside for most of the day if the weather is nice. I put them back in the potting shed in the late afternoon and water them well before placing them back under the lights. At this stage, some people leave them out over night but I don’t. There is always the threat of an unexpected storm that could blow them over and break them or worse yet, critters that would love to munch on their tender young leaves. No, they overnight in the safety of the potting shed.

Tomato Plants Happily Growing In My Heated Potting Shed

Tomato Plants Happily Growing In My Heated Potting Shed

By slowing acclimating them to the outdoors, my tomato plants should then be able to withstand the hot sun and strong breezes once they are planted in the garden.

The New Hampshire Garden Is Ready To Be Planted

The New Hampshire Garden Is Ready To Be Planted

The soil in the garden has been tilled and amended with aged manure and peat moss. Now I’m just waiting for the days to pass until I can safely transplant the tomatoes one last time at the end of May into the sunny garden at our New Hampshire home. Hopefully, I’ll have a successful growing season without too many challenges from nature and have a bountiful crop of tomatoes.

I wish you the same because the rewards of growing your own tomatoes from seed or starter plants bought from your local garden center will be evident with your first taste of a freshly picked vine ripened tomato. It doesn’t matter if the first tomato picked goes into a BLT sandwich, is simply sliced and drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt, or chopped and tossed with pasta, olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs, the flavor is outstanding.

Just remember that the secret to a great tomato is to grow it yourself and I hope my tips will help you grow tomatoes successfully.

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About Karen

I travel the back roads of New England and beyond, sharing great food and interesting places.
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194 Responses to Tips On Growing Tomatoes Successfully

  1. ramblingtart says:

    Thank you so much for this post, Karen. 🙂 We had such crazy weather here this year, that even my brilliant gardening friends were unable to get tomatoes. We’re a couple of weeks from Winter now, but my hubs is building me a greenhouse, so I have high hopes of getting some winter tomatoes flourishing with the help of my Hungarian adopted grandma. 🙂 Your tips are so good and I will be able to utilize them when Spring rolls around. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Krista, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. Weather plays such a big factor in how tomato plants perform. We had about half our usual crop last season because of a rainy and cold summer. I know you will be so happy having a greenhouse…good luck with your tomatoes. 🙂

  2. marymtf says:

    Treat your tomatoes like children – nurture them, feed them, croon little lullabies and the moment they ripen they go off looking for greener pastures.

  3. Your seedlings look great. I’ve put some of ours in the raised beds but have protected them by putting each one inside a cloche and then covering with a row cover. I guess you could say I’m over anxious for that first tomato sandwich. 🙂 Here’s hoping your gardens in NH and ME are both successful and full of delicious produce for you to enjoy.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Judy, My seedlings do look terrific this year. The weather forecast is for possible small hail this afternoon so I’m happy I’ve got the tomatoes in the potting shed. I’m anxious for that first tomato sandwich too…let’s hope we both get a great crop this year. 🙂

  4. Awesome potting shed Karen. Looks like a laboratory! 😉
    Great post!
    40 degrees here this AM and I have had my one tomato plant in the garden for two weeks. We have already had two days of 90F. Virginia weather is by-polar!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Diane, I’m glad you enjoyed the post, thank you. I love my potting shed, it gets used a lot now and again when it is time to harvest the apples in our orchard. We have had the same strange yoyo weather here as well but no 90 degree days.

  5. I’ve never grown tomatoes from seeds so this post is very helpful. Mother Nature decided we needed some cold weather so she brought us a Blackberry Winter with temperatures dipping down into the thirties at night so we covered our tomato plants (they are already in the ground) for extra insurance. I can’t wait for a BLT with homegrown tomatoes and the sooner the better.
    Sam

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sam, I’m glad to know that you enjoyed the post. I have been growing my tomatoes from seed for the last three years so that I can have some of the heirloom tomatoes that our garden centers don’t carry. The start of our spring was so cold here that I kept the seedlings in my bathroom until it was time to transplant them. I’m with you, the first tomato of the season always goes into a BLT. Good luck with your tomatoes this year. 🙂

  6. Karen, I have tomato envy. I love this tutorial.

    Madonna

    • Karen says:

      Hi Madonna, I’m glad that you enjoyed the tips on growing tomatoes. Now I have to keep my fingers crossed that we have good weather so we can have a good crop this year.

  7. Mad Dog says:

    You deserve a nice summer and growing season after all the cold weather this winter 🙂

  8. ela hester says:

    I know those are a ton better then commercial! Lucky you and congratulation!
    🙂 ela

  9. Love your heated potting shed, Karen.
    Thank you so much for sharing all those helpful tips!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Angie, I’m glad that you liked my tips on growing tomatoes. The heated potting shed is perfect for giving my tomatoes a good head start before they go into the garden. I’m happy to know that you like it, thank you.

  10. Norma Chang says:

    Great tutorial (clear and easy to follow) for growing tomatoes successfully from seeds, many will benefit from this post, Don’t recall seeing Espoma starting mix at my garden center, will look when next I visit. I use pro-mix but will get Espoma to make comparison next year.
    Agree, the flavor of home grown tomato is outstanding. How many varieties are you growing this year?

    • Karen says:

      I appreciate your kind words, Norma. I’m happy to know that a good gardener like yourself thinks that others will benefit from the post, thank you. I’m growing 4 large slicers…Ananas Noir, Black Krim, Cherokee Purple, and Brandywine and 2 cherries, Sweet 100 and Black Cherry from seed. I’ll be buying transplants of Sungold cherry tomato as I didn’t have the seed and perhaps another slicer or two.Two of our garden centers carry Espoma products which I have always been happy using…I’d be interested if you do a comparison with what you use. 🙂

      • Norma Chang says:

        Oh definitely, experienced as well as novice gardeners will benefit.
        I do use Espoma fertilizers but never thought of looking for starting mix.

      • Karen says:

        Actually, I think any of the seed starter mixes are good. I use Espoma because I also use Tomato-Tone and they are always in the same area of my garden center. 🙂

  11. Great tips. Thank you Karen.

  12. Mélanie says:

    my favourite “vegetable”(I know it’s a fruit!) since I was a kid… I like tomato salad with olive oil, parsley and dill… yummy! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mélanie, I think I agree with you about tomatoes being a favorite. Next time I make a tomato salad, I’ll have to try adding dill to it…thanks.

  13. Ours have been in the ground now for about two weeks and are looking the best we’ve seen tomatoes look in the garden in several years—tiny tomatoes are joyously forming—now if we can dry out a bit from all of this rain and get the sunshine back, we’ll be in business.!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julie, We have had really cool nights, rain and wind so I’m waiting to get my plants in the ground. The weather should be a little better in another week or so. I know you are happy to have tiny tomatoes already forming on your plants. Good luck with your garden this year. 🙂

  14. savourytable says:

    Alas I am afraid that there will be no tomatoes for me again this year. We are in the process of readying our house for sale so it is not in the cards for me, but once we relocate I have big plans. I can’t wait to see your garden in a few months.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Getting your house ready to sale is a big job…the best of luck getting it sold. I’m anxious to see how the tomatoes do in New Hampshire, I used to get great tomatoes here because the garden gets so much sun. I let it go dormant for a few years to recover from early blight a few years back. I’ll definitely do a follow up post in a couple of months. Thanks as always for your nice comment.

  15. Penny says:

    Your potting shed is enviable Karen. But not even that could guarantee me tomatoes on our shady plot of land. We have tried. I have to rely on the kindness of friends and the farmers’ market. I can just imagine what glorious tomatoes you will have. Great post.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Penny, for your nice compliment. I’m glad to know that you enjoyed the post. Not having a spot that gets a minimum of 6 hours of sun makes it difficult to get a crop of tomatoes. One year I grew cherry tomatoes in pots that I put in a wagon and would roll around to keep it in sunshine. Some workmen that were doing a project here thought I was a little nutty but it worked. 😀

  16. Your advice is excellent for getting plants started. However, after attempting to grow my own tomatoes twice, here in the south, I have given up. They grow beautifully at first and then, overnight, cut worms destroy them. I don’t use pesticides and the worms just seem to appear from nowhere. Do you have that problem in NH?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jovina, I’m happy that you enjoyed the post. We do have cut worms in both my in gardens in New Hampshire and Maine. I think I have a solution for your cut worm problem. I use the wooden skewers we use for grilling kebabs. I place a skewer in the soil right next to the stem…you might be able to make them out in my photos. The skewers prevent the cut worm from wrapping itself around the stem. The skewers also act as little stakes to keep them straight in the wind.

  17. Those are very good looking tomatoes. I won’t be growing any, but I hope the would be growers have paid attention to your good advice.

  18. You do grow fabulous tomatoes, Karen. It just doesn’t get hot enough here on the front range of CO to grow good tomatoes, it is one garden item I have given up on and instead look to the farmers market.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Judy, for your nice compliment. I usually do have good luck growing tomatoes but I know what you mean about cool weather. We have the same problem in Maine. It is a very short growing season there because of the cold mornings and nights. I’m planting these tomatoes in our New Hampshire garden this year which not only will be warmer but the garden gets sun most of the day. I’ll put soaker hoses on a timer so they will be watered when we are at the cottage in Maine. Hopefully, I’ll have a good crop. 🙂

  19. wok with ray says:

    Hi Karen, Thank you for these tips and coincidentally, I just started growing tomatoes in a pot. Being a novice to gardening, I could use all the help and tips from people like you who have grown tomatoes successfully. I really appreciate this post. Have a good week, Karen. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ray, I appreciate your nice comment and wish. I’m happy that my post was timely and that you thought it well be helpful. Good luck with your tomatoes, I hope you have a bountiful crop. Have a great week as well. 🙂

  20. Great post Karen and really good timing. Just planted my tomatoes in the garden Saturday. I don’t usually start mine from seed, but next year I think I’ll try. Very good advise.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Seana, for your lovely compliment. I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post. The nice thing about growing your tomatoes from seed is all the varieties that you can choose from. I hope your tomatoes do great. 🙂

  21. Even your potting shed looks so very lovely! Tomatoes are a favorite of mine. I haven’t grown any tomatoes (no space here in the city..) since the days when I would do it every spring and summer with my grandparents, but they are a very satisfying crop if taken care of well, as you said!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ksenia, I’m glad that you like my potting shed…it is a dream come true to have it. I’m sorry that you don’t have space to grow your own tomatoes but I know you have some great farmers markets in your area to buy tomatoes.

  22. Indeed, like raising kids, except for the college fund, the first car, the trips about the country….just like it! Karen, what a fun and well written story. I do absolutely understand what you are saying about growing tomatoes!

    • Karen says:

      Oh Teresa, you gave me such a laugh! I did forget about all the little “necessities” that our children require. 😀 I really enjoyed your comment and am glad that you liked the post. Thank you so much!

  23. Eva Taylor says:

    Your tips are always appreciated Karen, the plants look fantastic and I’m sure they’ll do well with all that TLC. You must be getting ready to head over to your summer place, can’t wait to see the garden photos, hope you didn’t lose much. I just hardened off my little fig tree and it’s very happy sitting on the sunny roof-top of my garage. We lost quite a few things in the garden, including a beautiful holly bush and the bridal veil vine isn’t doing so well on the back arbour. The rose of Sharon hasn’t shown signs of growth yet but I’m hoping it’s a late budder…there are quite a few of them in the front and it would be a real shame if they died over the winter. I’m going to buy a couple of cherry tomato plants for the roof top garden too, I really missed it last year.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Eva, I’m glad that you liked the tips. We went to Maine last week to meet the plumber and get the water turned back on at the cottage but only stayed for two days as the weather was cold and rainy. The gardens there are about a month behind because the snow just melted a few weeks ago…everything was just starting to pop out of the ground. I’m sorry you had so much problems in your gardens, I think we all have damage from this past winter…it was wicked. Here is to a good gardening season for us all this year. 🙂

  24. Kristy says:

    I think you’ve inspired me to try growing some grape or cherry tomatoes this year Karen. I’ve never done it before, but we do enjoy them. This might be a fun project to tackle with the kids this weekend. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristy, I’m happy to know that I have inspired you to grow grape or cherry tomatoes. I would suggest that if you only grow one cherry that you should try Sun Gold, easy to grow and great tasting. I also grow Black Cherry and they are great. Sweet 100’s are a terrific grape tomato that I grow. You can grow your tomatoes in large pots or in the ground…just make sure to put them in the sunniest spot in your yard and you will be rewarded with lots of little tomatoes.

  25. Sophie33 says:

    Thanks for the great tips! I grow every year 2 to 3 tomato plants, all of the cherry sort in bigger 30 liter pots! They do well because we have a walled garden & there is a micro-climat! This year I have the pear shaped yellow tomatoes & the red, orange like pear shaped vine tomatoes. I also have 2 smaller tiny tim tomato plants! 🙂 Your garden is ready for them!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sophie, Since you grow tomatoes every year, I’m happy to know that you enjoyed my post…thank you. Cherry tomatoes are great to grow when you don’t have a lot of space and you are right they do very well in large pots. I love the pear shaped tomatoes…they are so cute and delicious. Good luck with your tomatoes this year. 🙂

  26. A_Boleyn says:

    I want to give you a big hug, Karen, cause your ‘tomato growing and care’ post reminds me of my dad’s love and devotion to his round red kids every year. I don’t think he paid as much attention to us as he did to them. 🙂 Now that he’s gone, I miss the stakes in the back yard, pinching off extra flowers so there would be fewer and bigger tomatoes on each plant. And, of course, the plates of juicy tomatoes on the kitchen table … though I never liked eating raw tomatoes myself (shhh, it’s a big scandal).

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Boleyn, for your sweet comment. I truly appreciate your kind words. Not only are you one of my most loyal readers but you always say the nicest things. I’m happy to know that my post reminded you of your father and his tomatoes. Oh my goodness, you don’t like raw tomatoes…I won’t tell a sole. 🙂

  27. kitchenriffs says:

    Great tutorial! I usually just buy tomatoes form the garden center, and they do have an interesting selection. But I should really start them from seed. You’re right that there is a much better selection. Our tomatoes have been in the ground for a couple of weeks. Alas, we had some unseasonably cold weather — abut 38F — a couple of days ago. The tomatoes are fine, but the cucumbers look like they have some frost damage. I gambled with those — they do much better when the weather is a bit warmer. So I may end up having to replant those. Bummer!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you John, I appreciate your nice compliment. I’m glad to know that you enjoyed the post. I have found that over the last few years that garden centers are selling more varieties of tomatoes. I’m happy that yours can provide you with the tomatoes that you enjoy. I think all gardeners are anxious to get our vegetable gardens started but I tend to be very cautious. I’m sorry to hear that you have had some frost damage…that is a real bummer. Hopefully the rest of the growing season will be kind to you.

  28. plumdirt says:

    Such lucky tomatoes to have you tend them so! No wonder they reward you with tasty morsels in the weeks to come.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Plumdirt, I do baby my tomatoes from their tiny beginnings until they have given their all. I know you do the same with your garden each year. 🙂

  29. We have been growing our own tomatoes for about 20 years, and I learned some new tips I didn’t know about so thank you! And I have Potting Shed envy. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathryn, I appreciate your nice comment. I agree with you, I seem to learn something new each year that I garden and I’m very happy that some of my tips will be useful to you. I’m glad that you like my potting shed, I love it!

  30. a lovely post Karen, and you are so right, the secret to great tomatoes is to grow them yourself. Happy gardening my friend!

  31. Sarah says:

    Great post Karen – so much information. My tomatoes are currently hardening off just outside a very shabby greenhouse… I’m very envious of your potting shed, it looks wonderful. Do you have favourite varieties of tomatoes to grow? I’m always looking out for new recommendations!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sarah, I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post and photos of my potting shed, I appreciate your nice compliment. I’m not growing as many tomatoes this year as in the past…just six varieties. Picking my favorite tomato is like asking which is your favorite child…you love them all. 🙂 I do have to say that the Black Krim that I have grown for several years is usually the first of my large slicing tomato varieties to ripen and has a great taste. This year I’m growing it, Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, Ananas Noir, Black Cherry, Sweet 100 and Sun Gold. They are all tomatoes I have grown for several years and enjoy. Good luck with your tomatoes, I hope they do great.

  32. You are a very loving “tomato-mama” Karen. I would love to be one of your plants 🙂 Thanks for all the great tips. Your plants look so healthy and happy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Chris, I guess I really am a “tomato mama”. Hopefully, I’ll get a good crop of tomatoes this year…so far the tomato plants are doing great. I’m glad that you enjoyed my tips on growing tomatoes, thank you!

  33. Cathy says:

    This is an excellent guide to growing tomatoes… I have not had any success since moving here, so didn’t even try this year. Maybe next year! By the way, your potting shed is wonderful!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Cathy, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post about how I grow tomatoes. I’m sorry that you haven’t had luck growing tomatoes. Maybe your weather was too cool in the years past…perhaps you could try just growing a cherry tomato in a large pot in a sunny area this year to see if you have a better chance of success. Thank you for your nice compliment about my potting shed, I don’t know what I would do without it…especially during harvest season in the orchard.

  34. Raymund says:

    I will just imagine and look at this because no matter what I do I dont have a green thumb and kill every plant I touch. I will just cook and let the others do the planting 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Oh no Raymund, don’t tell me you have a brown thumb when it comes to growing plants. 😦 If you can’t grow vegetables, I’m sure you have a great market where you can buy them fresh.

  35. Sue says:

    Great post, Karen. And I just love the interior of your potting shed. What a great place to spend the day. I’m getting excited to get going in the garden, but still have to wait a few more weeks.
    Hope you have a wonderful week.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Sue, for your nice compliment. This post was for you, I know you asked to see this year’s seedlings. I’ve seen that you have planted your cold frames and am looking forward to following along as your garden progresses. Have a great week as well. 🙂

  36. David says:

    This is a beautifully written piece on growing tomatoes. And I will never again complain about the price of a good, ripe tomato at the farmers market! Considering all the work, it is worth every penny!

    • Karen says:

      I appreciate your kind words, David. Let’s just say that growing tomatoes is a labor of love but the rewards are so good. 🙂

  37. monique says:

    Everything is just perfect..
    Karen..I am such a nurturer..
    I just cannot beat the squirrels here..
    This is the first year I said no..to tomatoes..
    The last five years have been an adventure in futility!
    My neighbour just gave up too.
    I am coming to your house to get my perfect tomatoes..and will take delightful tours of both homes:-)
    Kidding:-)

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for your compliment, Monique. I’m sorry to hear that pesky squirrels have caused you and your neighbor to give up on growing tomatoes. Critters can certainly cause problems, I’ve had to deal with groundhogs eating my tomatoes in the past. I wish we were neighbors so I could share some of my crop the summer with you and personally give you a tour. 😀

  38. I’m so jealous! I’ve tried growing tomatoes including every one of your tips, but I’m missing a key ingredient…sun. I’ll just look at your bounty and dream of a day when I have the right conditions. Great tips!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Thank you for your nice compliment. Sun is definitely needed to grow a good crop of tomatoes. It has always been a challenge at our cottage in Maine because of all the big trees surrounding our property. This year I’m going to be growing them in our garden in New Hampshire where there is sun most all day. I’m just going to have to put a sprinkler on a timer to water them as we go back and forth to Maine for the summer.

  39. I love your analogy comparing growing tomatoes successfully to raising children. And like children the plants end up different heights! I hope the frosts are now over and I wish you happy summer gardening. 😉

    • Karen says:

      Hi B, I’m glad that you liked the analogy. Each seed I planted is growing differently and I’m sure the tomatoes will ripen differently as well. The frosts seem to behind us finally and I’ll be planting them in a few days. I’m hoping this will be a good growing season…thank you for your wish. 🙂

  40. Liz Posmyk of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things says:

    Wow, Karen, I’m really impressed. You’ve nailed the business of growing beautiful tomatoes! It seems so cold here that our season can really be tricky… going to save this for later and try some of your hints! Thanks for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lizzy, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post and tips. Thank you for your nice compliment. I know our seasons are opposite with you heading into winter and us heading into summer…hopefully your weather will be mild and ours not too hot. 🙂

  41. There is nothing that tastes quite as good as a home grown tomato. Yours get a fantastic start!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maureen, I totally agree with you about the taste of a homegrown tomato. I do baby my plants until they go into the ground. Hopefully they will be strong enough to face the challenges that nature will give them.

  42. Due to the elevation here (around 4500 to 5000 ft) I have to start with seedlings in order to have tomatoes by mid to late Summer. I planted a Roma, Yellow Pear, Red Cherry and a Chocolate Stripe this weekend and cannot wait to see what each plant produces. Thanks for the tips – Happy Gardening 🙂

  43. How wonderful…..so enjoyed yor photos. How marvelous a gardener you are!

  44. Eha says:

    Remember your disappointing Maine season from last year and hold every finger and toe crossed for a better one this year! And am tucking the lesson away for a few months for the beginning of our tomato and pepper season. My weakness is not buying good enough potting soil trying to save a penny or two – it simply does not pay 🙂 ! And, yes, DO love you potting shed during its yearly photo!!!!!!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Eha, for your nice wish. Yes, last year the crop of tomatoes didn’t do well in Maine. This year I’m planting them in my garden in New Hampshire after letting the soil rest for a couple of years. I have sun most all day here and the wind isn’t as bad so hopefully I’ll have a nice crop this year. I think a good seed starting mix gives the seeds the best opportunity to thrive.

  45. megtraveling says:

    I really appreciate your instructions and explanation on how to successfully grow tomatoes Karen. Your tomatoes must be really delicious and it sounds like patience is one of the most important things!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Meg, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post about how I grow my tomatoes. Each year, my husband and I can’t wait until we can get tomatoes from our garden…they are terrific. You are right about patience as I start the seeds early April and the first tomato is usually picked toward the end of July.

  46. igardendaily says:

    Well said! Can’t wait to see your results later this summer!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Andrea, for your nice compliment. I’m hoping we have a good growing season in the garden this year. You know I will show you the results.

  47. hotlyspiced says:

    That does seem quite a business but home-grown tomatoes are so much sweeter and so much more tasty than the awful excuses for tomatoes we have in the shops. I have self-seeded cherry tomatoes in my garden and they’re wonderful. Good luck and I hope you have a wonderful harvest xx

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlie, I agree with you that the taste of a homegrown tomato makes it worth all you do to grow them successfully. I always get some self seeded tomatoes at our garden in Maine but they come up so late that they have no chance of growing a tomato to ripeness. It is nice that you have such a long growing season.

  48. And a bounty you will have! Beautiful photos, Karen and your potting shed is just fabulous. I think I would enjoy the space to kick back and read a book!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandra, I hope you are right about having a bounty of tomatoes this year…that would be nice. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and photos, thank you.

  49. We are still novices when it comes to growing tomatoes. Last year we had a very successful year. You are right, home grown tomatoes are the best! I love your yard and garden…so beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laila, Sometimes I feel like a novice too when an unexpected problem or disease occurs. I’m happy that you had a great season last year as we both have a short growing season. Thank you very much, I’m glad that you like our yard and garden. 🙂

  50. Your tomatoes are stunning, wouldn’t mind growing them! Thanks for your tips 😀

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Uru, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. I hope my tips will be of help if you decide to try growing some tomatoes.

  51. great tips! I need you to tend my garden Karen. You are the best when it comes to planting- it shows in how beautiful your garden looks

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Jessica, I’m glad you liked my tips and I appreciate your nice compliment. Gardening does take work but the rewards are great. 😀

  52. what a fine potting shed you have! you have cared for your dear plants like children–here’s to a prosperous growing season. In Tennessee, we do have the benefit of a longer season–our plants are doing well in the ground—except for a couple that got nipped by a pesky rabbit!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Nancy, I appreciate your nice compliment. I’m glad you like my potting shed…between using it during the spring for starting my plants and then when I’m harvesting apples in our orchard, I don’t know what I would do without it. You really are lucky to have a longer growing season, ours is very short. Oh a pesky rabbit is terrible, I have to deal with groundhogs here in New Hampshire and Maine.

  53. Thanks for the great tips on growing tomatoes, Karen. I used to have a greenhouse and follow most of the steps you write about, but now I’m down to a few large pots of tomatoes on the patio. I’m always amazed by how many tomatoes they produce. Tomatoes and herbs are the extent of my garden these days. I love your potting shed!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cathy, I agree with you about how many tomatoes you can get off one cherry tomato plant. Everyone that has a sunny spot and a large pot should grow at least one plant. I usually grow Black Cherries, Sun Gold and Sweet 100’s. Tomatoes and herbs are all you really need and I’m sure they give you lots of delicious meals. Thank you for your compliment…I’m glad you like my potting shed.

  54. Conor Bofin says:

    I would love the patience to grow my own Karen. I really must give it a go.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Conor, I believe that those of us of Irish heritage are known for having a little bit of a stubborn streak which I think would also be considered patience. 🙂 I think you should try growing a tomato or two. The reward of a homegrown tomato comes with the outstanding flavor that you can’t seem to get in a commercially grown tomato.

  55. Great tips, there is nothing better than homegrown tomatoes!

  56. Eri says:

    What an amazing article Karen, feels good to be here, I;m missing my moms tomatoes back in Greece, insanely good, there is no comparison to the ones we buy even from the best place in the world. Hugs and Kisses my friend!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Eri, It is so nice to hear from you and I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post. Thank you for your sweet compliment. 😀

  57. Thanks by these tips I want plant tomatos for our next summer:)

  58. What a beautiful image of beautiful tomatoes. As to your gardening, I am very impressed with both your diligence and your green thumb. Thanks for the tutorial.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Darryl, I’m glad you liked the tomato photo. Those were some beautiful tomatoes. 🙂 I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post and appreciate your nice compliment.

  59. lulu says:

    You are a champ when it comes to tomatoes. I always wish for a sampling of your harvest.

  60. Dear Karen, I love your gardening posts – I am always in awe of your gardening talents…and I love looking at all of your wonderful pictures, but my favorite is the one from the inside of your beautiful heated potting shed – I am jealous (in a really good kind of way, of course…).
    What a lovely post, dear friend, to read through on a cloudy Thursday morning!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Andrea, for your kind words. I appreciate your nice compliment. I’m happy to know that you enjoy my gardening posts and photos. I tell my husband over and over how happy I am to have my potting shed. Today, I’m sure my plants are happy that they are growing in the shed today as it is cold and foggy and they are warm and under their grow light. I hope you and your family will have a nice weekend. 🙂

  61. Susan S says:

    You are so fortunate to have a charming potting shed! I love growing tomatoes. Our biggest challenge living so close to Lake Michigan is the humidity. With the moisture clinging to the leaves they tend to get leaf spot. There is nothing better than picking a fresh tomato in the garden!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susan, I tell my husband each spring that I don’t know what I would do without my potting shed when trying to grow tomatoes here in New England. I know exactly what you mean about the problems with humidity. We had a real problem with leaf spot and blight last year at the cottage in Maine where my garden is right next to the lake. This year I’m going to be growing my tomatoes in my New Hampshire garden. Let’s hope we have a good growing season this year. 🙂

  62. These look like a wonderful crop! I have a little bit of trouble sometimes with my green thumb so it’s been great to read your tips. I think tomatoes might be the next thing to add in my garden.

    Krissie x – http://pearlsofstyle.blogspot.com.au

    • Karen says:

      Hi Krissie, Thank you for stopping by to visit my blog and I appreciate your nice compliment. I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the tips and hope that you try growing tomatoes.

  63. Shannon Hawk says:

    Your plants look beautiful! I have planted San Marzano tomato seeds and being in Western NY, they are still indoors. It’s so very rewarding to make sauce and eat the tomatoes that you have grown from seed! Your pictures are absolutely inspiring too by the way. Happy Gardening! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Shannon, for your nice compliment. I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post and photos. It sounds like we have similar growing conditions. Let’s hope we both have a bountiful crop from our gardens this year. 🙂

  64. I agree with Kathryn, and have potting shed envy, Karen. I love it. I have grown tomatoes since I was a young girl, and to be honest, we can grow tomatoes almost year-round. They get a little spindly and I get tired of caring for them long before they stop producing. They grow themselves. I really enjoyed seeing the steps you take to ensure a profitable yield and beat the calendar clock! I love the care you take and admire it. I have often wondered if I’d be as enthusiastic if I needed to take those steps. Of course, I won’t even eat a supermarket tomato…they’re tasteless. My biggest difficulty is garden space. I’d love to have a portion of your pretty plot. 🙂 Reserve me just a corner? LOL!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debra, You are so lucky to live where your tomatoes seem to grow themselves. Here in the Northeast, the plants have such a short growing season…it is a real challenge. You are so right about supermarket tomatoes not having any taste even when they look like they should be good because they are red and perfectly shaped. Even though most of our acreage is devoted to orchards, I’m sure I could find you a little corner that you could garden. It might be a little problem tending to it from coast to coast though. 😀

  65. lvaletutto says:

    Very informative post, Karen. Thanks for all the great tips. I had a few “volunteer” plants this year, some tomatoes that sprouted up unexpectedly in my planter that must have carried over from last years crop. That was quite a nice surprise!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laura, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post about how I grow my tomatoes. I get a few volunteers that come up every year but much too late to produce any tomatoes before the first killing frost arrives. I hope you have a great gardening year this season.

  66. Liz says:

    I love your potting shed. It’s so clean, more like a Lab. Thanks for sharing so many tips on tomato growing. Probably next year, I shall try and grow a few tomato plants. Have a lovely weekend!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liz, I’m happy that you came by for a visit and enjoyed my tips on growing tomatoes and the photos of my potting shed…I love it. I hope you try growing tomatoes next season, they will be so much better than anything you can buy. Thank you for your nice compliment and wish, I hope you have a nice weekend as well.

  67. I always think of you when I see my tomato plants. This year did not yield any fruit, but I think the wind was responsible for that 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tandy, I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t get any tomatoes this year. We get a lot of wind off the lake in Maine so I wonder if that was really the problem. I think it might be more heat related. If you have temperatures above 85 to 90 degrees F. the flowers will fail to pollinate. There are some hybrid tomatoes that do better in heat so you might check into that for next year. 🙂

  68. grace says:

    wonderful tips! my grandpa is an ACE tomato grower and i can only hope i’ve retained half of what he’s taught me. 🙂

  69. Georgina says:

    Great post. I don’t have any outside space at the moment, but miss growing vegetables so much that I’m attempting a couple of tomato plants on my window sill. I’m not sure that they’ll do terribly well, but I hope that I’ll get a few tomatoes to enjoy!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for your nice compliment, Georgina. I’m happy that you enjoyed post. I do hope you have success growing them on your window sill. You might try a grow light if your plants start to look leggy. Good luck!

  70. ĽAdelaide says:

    hi karen, wow, you are so ambitious! i buy mine from the local nursery and am happy. we have many vintage varieties to choose from every year. i’m insanely jealous of your potting shed. it’s so sweet! 😉

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, One of our nurseries has started to grow a few of the heritage varieties but they sell small ones for the price of a packet of seeds that gives me plants for a couple of years. I’m glad you like my little potting shed, it was a dream come true to have it built when we restored our home.

  71. Velva says:

    Good tomato growing advice. This season I finally tried my hand at seedlings. I wanted to grow the Marzano paste tomatoes and could not locate transplants. Would you believe that I have close to 30 plants in teh ground ( I clearly have lost my mind). We are preparing to harvest tomatoes here in north Florida temps already climbing to the 90’s and tomatoes do not like temps much over 85.

    Have a great season.

    velva

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Vela, I always appreciate a compliment from a fellow gardener. Oh no, you haven’t lost your mind as I know your Marzano tomatoes will make wonderful sauce that you can freeze or can. I cut down on how many I am growing this year but I’ve still got 18 tomato plants myself. 😀

  72. dishinwithdidi says:

    Karen because of my strange work hours this year I actually bought well gallon sized plants to plant in my raised beds. Wish me luck, this is my last attempt because of my soil! ♥ I am sharing this post on my FB!! I know my readers will love the step by step and directions!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Didi, I think it was great that you were able to buy such big plants for your raised garden beds. I do wish you lots of luck and hope you have a bountiful crop. I’m planting my tomatoes in my New Hampshire garden this year as we didn’t have much success in Maine last year. You just never know how a garden is going to do from year to year…there are so many variables. You are so sweet to share so many of my posts on your FB page, I really do appreciate your kindness. 😀

  73. reggiorif says:

    Thanks Karen this post is really useful! Each time I see something about gardening I am tempted to try but I always wait and in the end it’s too late and I tell myself I’ll do it next year. But this is something I am going to try. My problem is also that each time I prepare and plant the ground for plants, the neighbours’ cats mess it up (and my dog isn’t that goo at chasing anything 😉 )

    • Karen says:

      Hi Didi, I’m happy to know that you enjoyed my post and that you might plant something this year. Perhaps you can put some plastic fencing or netting about the plants to keep the animals out as they can been a problem.

  74. I am so envious of what you’ll be harvesting late this summer. Our only patch of sunlit yard is right by a walnut tree that secretes something that messes with the growth of tomatoes (and apparently alfalfa!). I may have to build a big container garden…as I miss my homegrown tomatoes!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liz, I’m so looking forward to tomatoes in a couple of months, they are one of the true pleasures of summer. I have read that walnut trees are a real problem for gardeners. I think a container garden would definitely be the way to go…even if you only had a couple of plants.

  75. flippenblog says:

    Oh that potting shed! I hope you will be eating plush ripe tomatoes soon. Remember to post some pics.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Flippen, I’m glad you like my potting shed. It is so nice to have a place my plants can live in until they get planted in the garden. I’ll definitely post photos when we start harvesting tomatoes.

  76. I miss having good organic tomatoes in my garden.. Last year I succeeded to have a wonderful vegetable garden, but we moved, and where I live now I don’t have that possibility. Great tips for whenever I will be needing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ella, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’m sure you miss having a garden at your new home.

  77. ladyfi says:

    You have a great potting shed. And your tomatoes look delicious!

  78. Oh wow! Growing your own tomatoes has to be an activity really satisfying! I just have a balcony and I have to please myself with fine herbs…. Please enjoy your tomatoes even for me!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Margherita, I do enjoy growing tomatoes and hopefully I’ll have a nice crop this year. Wish you were a neighbor so that I could share some of them with you. 🙂

  79. Your tomato growing ability never ceases to amaze me! The picture of your bounty is gorgeous and I am sure you enjoyed every juicy bite!

  80. I wish I had a garden like yours. Great tips and gorgeous tomatoes.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  81. Misky says:

    My plants have a lot of blossoms but it’s raining and raining and too cool for much progress.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Misky, It sounds like we are having the same awful weather. I am waiting to plant my tomatoes in the garden because too much rain brings lots of potential disease problems. Today our high was 42F…blossoms definitely don’t like cool weather and rain.

  82. Love your potting shed! I love to grown tomatoes of my own but quite often get those nasty tomato worms. They totally gross me out!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elizabeth, I’m glad that you like my potting shed. It certainly is handy when I’m starting my tomatoes. I know what you mean and the tomato horn worms. My sweet husband does worm patrol every morning once we see the first sign of them.

  83. Sissi says:

    Growing tomatoes or strawberries is one of the reasons I regret I don’t have even a tiny garden. I’m sure all the gardeners are very grateful for your tips. There is nothing better than one’s own tomatoes!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sissi, I know that you don’t have a spot to grow tomatoes but I do know that you enjoy growing herbs on your balcony…fresh herbs are such a wonderful ingredient when cooking. Thank you for your nice compliment, it is very much appreciated as always.

  84. mjskit says:

    Bobby built me a raised garden bed and spent the last year making soil. Even though I didn’t start my own tomato plants, I bought some heirloom starters and thus far they are doing great. Next year we’re talking about starting with the seeds so thanks so much for this post!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi MJ, I have grown tomatoes in raised beds and in my regular gardens. It sounds like you are doing everything right and I wish you the best of luck with your garden this you. Starting from seed will give you an edge on the size of tomatoes you plant and an opportunity to grow a greater variety of tomatoes. Not only that but a big savings in the cost of growing your own compared to buying transplants. Thank you for your nice compliment, I’m glad you enjoyed the tips.

  85. laurasmess says:

    I am TERRIBLE at growing things. Everything I seem to plant ends up dying a slow and disappointing death. I love this guide to growing tomatoes though, I actually have some seeds at home but I haven’t wanted to plant them (due to fear of killing them!). I will try your method after I get back from holidays in a few months. xx

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laura, I hope you will try growing some of your tomato seeds or you could start with a transplant from a garden center. If you have a place to plant them where they get at least 6 full hours of sunlight, I think you will be able to grow tomatoes. If I had to say one thing that seems to cause a plant to die…it’s that we can love them to death by giving them too much water. I wish you the best of luck!

  86. Mine grow so fast I tend to plant them at the end of April indoors…this year they are leggy as surgery has delayed the planting outdoors….just hardening them off finally.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Donna, I’m happy that your surgery is behind you and that you will be attending to your gardens again…take care and don’t overdo.

  87. These are very useful tips, Karen! Your tomatoes look very pretty and succulent.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Denise, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. The tomatoes were planted in our New Hampshire garden this week. They now have to adjust to living outside…so far the nights have been very cold.

  88. MamaD1xx4xy says:

    Wow, you are a far more nurturing tomato mama than I! Hubs and I start the seeds indoors in a seed starting soil, place them in the sun and they do pretty well. We never change the size of the container and don’t have a potting shed. They stay indoors until I put them on the porch as it warms. A week or so later they are in the garden. Luckily it works for us, the tomatoes are coming in right now. Just picked my first golden nugget tomato on Father’s Day.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Gretchen, I have to be a good tomato mama because I can’t plant until the end of May. Our first frosts in New Hampshire and Maine usually occur in late September or early October so we have a very short growing season. With that in mind, I need to have the biggest plants I can when they go into the ground. Good for you to be able to pick your first tomato…that is wonderful. Continued good success with your garden.

  89. cabinet stew says:

    mmmm I wish you hadn’t said “BLT” cause now I need one!

  90. Without a doubt, a home grown tomato is one of life’s greatest pleasures! I have so much love for a delicious fresh, ripe tomato, warm from the sunshine. I imagine that you have quite a few recipes up your sleeve for using these up, when they’re abundant! It’s one of natures greatest gifts for sure.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alli, It is so true, I believe tomatoes must be one of the most loved items we can grow in the garden. Lots of tomatoes are making their way to our table right now in so many different ways. 🙂

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