Gardenmagik spokesperson Melissa Allman says there are two types of folks in the South: those who plant their own tomatoes and those who will plant their own tomatoes. This is an 8 min, 7 second “audio visual” (Melissa talking to camera) giving us a kind of overview of tomato planting for amateurs.
Prospective tomato growers need to consider your garden size when thinking about planting tomatoes as the bushes can be determinate or indeterminate. This refers to their size. Determinate vines are predictable. You know how big they will be. But the indeterminate types can be really huge — only you don’t know just how huge! They might need caging or staking.
You also have to decide what size fruits you want. You get the small cherry / grape sized fruits and then at the other extreme some types that can weigh 5 – 7 lbs! And when do you want your tomato plants to bear fruit? Their are spring types, summer types and autumn types.
Melissa says it’s better to prepare the soil in the fall when you can plant other crops. The soil needs to be acidic (pH about 6.5) but it’s good to add lime when getting the soil ready. This is really important for the calcium that tomatoes need so much. A lack of calcium leads to all kinds of disorders, from rotting fruit through to leaf curl.
When planting tomato plants you need to fertilize the soil at a ratio of 15:15:15, referring to Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. As the plants grow you can change the ratio to 5:10:15. Melissa says that too much nitrogen might hinder the plant’s ability to absorb calcium — this you don’t want to do.