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Aha! Guide to Gardening

Tomato-Planting Tips

Want to feast on homegrown tomatoes this summer? In most areas, you have until Memorial Day to get your garden started. Just follow these planting tips.

By Nykia Spradley
Yellow and red tomatoes in a crateSang AnRealSimple.com
  • Your local nursery will carry tomato varieties that grow well in your area. Look for plants that are short and bushy, with dark foliage and no flowers.
     
  • For bite-size tomatoes, go with any type of grape or cherry tomato. For larger tomatoes, try the Brandywine heirloom variety. Dreaming of meaty slices on a sandwich? Pick beefsteak. If you have a hard time choosing, go to vegvariety.cce.cornell.edu for a fuller description of hundreds of varieties.
     
  • The key to thriving tomatoes is at least six hours of sunshine daily and regular watering. The Tomato Success Kit ($65, gardeners.com) takes care of the irrigation for you. In addition to soil, fertilizer, and mulch, it includes a planter with a built-in watering system.
     
  • How to tell when tomatoes are perfectly ripe? For tips on picking and storing them, see Picking and Storing Tomatoes.
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