Caring for tomatoes — everything about the popular vegetable plant

Tomatoes are delicious and very popular. In addition, the fruit vegetable is rich in vitamin C and potassium and, with a water content of almost 90 percent, is extremely low in calories. With a little care, tomatoes can be planted wonderfully on the balcony or in the garden. With enough sun, you can look forward to a rich harvest. It is up to you whether you buy the popular vegetable as planting material or sow it yourself from seed. The strong young plants are planted outdoors from May, because as heat-loving plants, tomatoes can be damaged by low night-time temperatures. In regions with high rainfall, it is advisable to protect the tomato plants with a canopy.

Worth knowing Location Cultivation Planting Care Watering Fertilizing In the tub Species Pests & Diseases FAQ

Things to know about tomatoes

Botanical name: Solanum lycopersicum Other names: tomato, love apple, paradise apple, tomato Use: fruit vegetables for fresh consumption, salads, sauces, soups, important in Mediterranean cuisine Origin: Central and South America Flowering period: May to October, in a heated greenhouse all year round, at Planting in April, protection against frost may be necessary Flower colors: yellow Special features: Tomatoes are considered the most consumed vegetable in Germany. It can be grown in your own garden or on the balcony. Whether planted out in the garden bed or in large containers, a rich harvest can be expected with enough sun. There are countless tomato varieties and species that differ in fruit size, color and flesh, taste and growth type.

Where should you plant tomatoes?

Tomatoes need a sunny, warm and sheltered spot. A location in front of a south wall that reflects the heat is ideal. Tomato plants also like sun, but not rain. Therefore, it is advisable to protect the vegetable plants with a canopy to prevent unwanted fungal diseases. Planting in the garden without protection is possible, but carries the risk already mentioned. Avoid planting tomatoes too early! Until mid-May you should carry out the tomato care in the house.

Our gardening tip: Change the location of your tomatoes, if possible every year. This prevents root and fungal diseases. Remove all leaves with suspicious brightening early and regularly. In this way you can minimize the dreaded late blight if necessary.

How can tomatoes be grown and what should be considered when caring for tomato plants?

Enrich your garden with a wide variety of tomato varieties and species. By sowing tomatoes, this is easy and uncomplicated. Start growing from seeds as early as the end of February to mid-March. Since the seeds need temperatures of over 20 °C to germinate, the so-called pre-cultivation takes place on the windowsill in the house or in a heated greenhouse. After 7 to 10 days the seeds have germinated, the plants develop and form more leaves. Now you can set up the young plants at 16 to 20 °C and plant them in larger pots if necessary. Depending on the location and variety, strong tomato plants have developed after 4 to 6 weeks. When caring for tomatoes, it is important to gradually get used to the outdoor conditions. From mid-April on days with at least 12 °C, place the young plants in a shady place outdoors. At night you should place the young plants back inside the house. This so-called hardening strengthens the vegetable plants and will help later when you plant the tomatoes. Hardy tomato plants continue to grow better outdoors and bear fruit sooner.

Our gardening tip: Sowing seeds is the best choice, especially if you want to cultivate unusual tomato varieties or a large variety.

How do I plant my tomatoes in the garden?

For a rich harvest, all tomato varieties need permeable and humus-rich soil. With special tomato and vegetable soil you give the plants the best start and offer the fruit vegetables the best conditions for rapid and successful growth with this purely natural product. Dig a planting hole 30 cm deep and 20 cm in diameter. The well-watered tomato plants are planted with the special soil so that the root ball is about 5 cm below the ground. In this way, further roots form at the base of the stem, which supply the plants with water and nutrients.

Good plant development is…

… a distance of at least 50 to 60 cm between the plants is recommended

… a row spacing of 80 to 100 cm is recommended

This also makes maintenance work easier and the plants have enough space to develop optimally.

Water the freshly planted vegetables thoroughly and cover the soil with a layer of mulch. This layer promotes soil life, minimizes evaporation and suppresses unwanted weed growth. Withered grass clippings (fresh grass would go moldy), young nettle leaves, well-ripened compost or a thin layer of straw are suitable as mulch material.

Our gardening tip: Never plant potatoes and tomatoes next to each other. When the potatoes are ripe and the tops are wilting, brown rot can spread to the tomatoes. Good partners for tomatoes are herbs such as chives, parsley or basil.

From mid-May, the danger of night frosts is over and the heat-loving tomatoes can be planted directly outdoors. Earlier planting is possible, but should be done in a greenhouse or protected with a polytunnel until mid-May, because tomato plants need night-time temperatures of at least 15 °C. It doesn’t matter whether you grew the plants yourself from seeds or bought them ready-made: With the right knowledge about the needs, growing tomatoes is a lot of fun and tomato plants are easy to care for.

Our gardening tip: To protect against night frosts, we recommend the use of foil hoods when planting early outdoors. It is important that you remove these protective covers again in the morning to avoid the formation of condensation and thus the increased risk of fungal infection. You can also take care of the tomato plants with tonics.

What tomato care is necessary?

climbing aid

Most tomato species need a climbing aid. Tomato spiral sticks made of stainless steel or aluminum have proven themselves because they are handy and easy to clean. It is best to stick the tomato sticks directly onto the plants when planting and direct the main shoot along the spirals. Due to their slow growth, bush tomatoes can also be planted without climbing aids.

max out

Ausgeizen or Ausgeizen is considered the most important care measure for tomato plants. The side shoots are regularly removed. It is important that these competitive instincts are continuously broken out immediately after they arise. You would only deprive the plant of unnecessary energy and inhibit the growth of the existing fruits.

How do I water my tomatoes?

A steady supply of water is important for the development and fruiting of tomatoes. Especially in the first few days after planting, the fruit vegetables need enough water to be able to establish themselves at the new location. If the plants are well rooted, the intervals between irrigation can be increased. As a rule of thumb, the soil should be dry in the upper 2 to 3 cm before each watering. The amount of water and the watering interval depend essentially on the temperature and the soil conditions.

Our gardening tip: It is best to water the tomatoes in the morning. Make sure that the plants are not wet, but that the water is given directly to the root neck on the ground. In this way you avoid fungal diseases and make tomato care easier.

How do I fertilize my tomato plants?

Tomatoes belong to the group of heavy consumers and therefore need sufficient nutrients for lush growth and rich fruit set. With a tomato special fertilizer or organic natural fertilizer you can optimally supply your tomatoes. Manure manure made from stinging nettle or comfrey, as well as horse and cow manure, is also often used in the hobby garden and thus offers the opportunity to fertilize the fruit vegetables completely biologically.

How do I plant my tomatoes in the tub?

In principle, all types of tomatoes can be planted in pots. Vine tomatoes and cocktail tomatoes in particular are ideal for planting in pots. A warm and sunny location is important for potted tomato plants. Use the largest possible containers to give the plant enough space for good root development. A volume of 30 to 40 liters per plant is ideal. With smaller vessels, the maintenance effort increases. When planting in a bucket, it is also important to ensure that the container has a drainage hole, that a drainage layer is created to protect against waterlogging and that high-quality soil is used.

What types of tomatoes are there?

Tomatoes can be divided into the following groups based on their growth, fruit size and color:

  • round tomatoes
  • beefsteak tomatoes
  • Cherry and cherry tomatoes
  • egg or romato tomatoes
  • vine tomatoes
  • Bush or vine tomatoes
  • wild tomatoes

Historical Varieties In addition to the different growth behavior and fruit size, there are a large number of tomato varieties that please with yellow, green and dark red to almost black fruits. Another criterion for the classification of tomatoes is their resistance to late blight and brown blight. You can find more detailed explanations under «Diseases and pests».

Tomato varieties are classified as follows:

Resistant tomato varieties

Due to their genes, these varieties are immune to fungal diseases and are therefore robust plants.

Tolerant tomato varieties

Although tolerant tomato varieties are attacked by fungal diseases, damage and failures only occur to a limited extent.

Robust tomato varieties

These varieties are less sensitive than other varieties. Especially small-fruited varieties are often more robust than beefsteak tomatoes. The consistency of the leaves is also largely responsible for the robustness of the plants.

Refined tomatoes — the specialty

Grafted tomatoes are particularly recommended for small gardens. The otherwise necessary change of area is no longer necessary and tomatoes can be planted in the same place for many years in a row. When tomato grafting, special tomato varieties are grafted onto wild tomatoes.

Grafting combines the advantages of both plant types and leads to:

    • more resilient and healthy plants
    • Tolerance to many diseases
    • a significantly longer harvest
    • higher yields
    • vigorous growth

beautiful fruit and leaf quality When planting tomatoes, it is important that you ensure that the grafting point remains above the surface of the earth.
Due to the strong growth potential, breeding with two or three shoots is also suitable for grafted plants.

Baked zucchini and tomatoes with basil
Here you can find the delicious recipe and learn how to use tomatoes. Our instructions are ideal for copying. Enjoy your meal!

To the recipe

What pests and diseases can the tomato get?

Tomatoes are a bit demanding to care for. Low temperatures and high humidity quickly lead to weakened plants and thus to an increased susceptibility to fungal diseases. A warm, sunny place with rain protection is optimal for the fruit vegetable. If there is also an even supply of water and nutrients, the best conditions for healthy plants are given. Too dense plants and malnutrition increase the risk of disease. Therefore, give your tomato plants the optimal site conditions.

cracked fruit

Usually a result of irregular water supply. Balanced fertilization with special tomato fertilizer is also important, which ensures good fruit development thanks to an increased potassium content and minimizes fruit bursting.

Late blight and late blight

Spots that turn black appear especially on older leaves. The infestation spreads quickly and leads to the death of the leaves. The fruits are also affected and thus inedible. Infection occurs mainly in high humidity and wet foliage. The most important preventive measure is to keep the foliage dry, so it is advisable to only water the plants from below. With a tomato house with a roof, your plants are optimally protected.

Recognizing and combating late blight in tomatoes
The fungus Phytophthora infestans is responsible for the disease, which multiplies massively in wet and humid climates and leads to the complete collapse of the vegetable plants. We show you the possibilities of prevention and treatment.

Late blight in tomatoes

Blossom end rot on tomatoes – worth knowing and tips for prevention
Blossom end rot on tomatoes is primarily indicated by brown, sunken spots on the fruit. Find out everything about the topic and how you can safely get a rich tomato harvest.

Combat blossom end rot

fruit and stem rot

Black spots can be seen on the stem, especially on older plants. The fungal disease causes the plants to begin to wilt and the leaves to turn yellow. The affected fruit cannot be eaten. There are no countermeasures.

spider mites

They mostly occur in tomato cultivation in greenhouses. The tomato leaves have slight chlorosis caused by the numerous sucking sites of the mites. On the shoots and on the leaves there are fine spider threads under which the spider mites live under their protection. If the infestation is severe, the leaves will dry up and the plants will suffer. Natural opponents (predatory mites) can be used as a preventive measure in the greenhouse.

FAQ — Frequently asked questions about tomatoes

Can I grow tomatoes on the balcony?

Tomato cultivation on the balcony and terrace is optimal. The plants are often sheltered from the rain and are therefore less susceptible to diseases. It is important that you use sufficiently large containers. This makes it easier to care for the balcony tomatoes.

Do all tomatoes need a climbing aid?

With a climbing aid you prevent the shoots with tomatoes from breaking in the wind. Whether a climbing aid is necessary or not depends largely on the tomato variety. Bush tomatoes are usually compact and richly branched and ideal for pots. Due to their low growth height, a tomato stake is often not required for bush tomatoes. Caring for tomato plants is easier with a climbing aid.

What happens if I don’t pry / rip out the tomatoes?

Tomatoes naturally grow luxuriantly and form many shoots. If you leave all the shoots on the plant, many small tomatoes will grow on the plant, which will only ripen slowly. By breaking out the side shoots, you promote fruit size and the plant only has to take care of the main shoot. This allows you to reap fruit earlier. Breaking out / squeezing has several advantages.

Which plants are suitable for planting in combination with tomatoes?

Many plants thrive near tomatoes. So you can plant cabbage, radishes and carrots near tomatoes. Plant fennel, peas and potatoes at a little distance.

Can tomatoes be planted in raised beds?

Bush or vine tomatoes in particular are ideal for the raised bed. Tomatoes can be planted together with basil, chives, parsley or garlic.

Can you harvest tomato seeds yourself?

You can easily win tomato seeds yourself. However, tomatoes with the same characteristics as those of the mother plant only grow from so-called seed-proof varieties. So-called F1 hybrids result in plants with completely different properties.

Sowing and fertilizing calendar

Sowing calendar for vegetables
In our sowing calendar you can see everything from sowing to harvesting of vegetable plants at a glance.

Show sowing calendar

Fertilizer calendar
With our fertilizer calendar you can see at a glance which fertilizer should be used in which period.

Show fertilizer calendar

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