Select a sunny site that gets at least 8 hours of sunlight each
Prepare the soil by adding compost and digging it in well. If
planting in containers use good potting soil, not dirt from the yard.
Place the containers where they will receive a minimum of 6-8
hours of sunlight daily; however, you should avoid areas with intense
heat reflected off walls and patios.
Select sturdy transplants: the
stem should be about as thick as a pencil, the plant should be about as
wide as it is high, and it should have dark green, thick foliage.
Here is some tomato terminology to help you make your selections.
Determinate: Plants that produce one crop all at once.
Indeterminate: Plants that produce tomatoes throughout the growing
V/F/T/N: Initials that indicate a plant is a hybrid that is resistant to
the problem represented by the initial.
V – Verticillium wilt, F – Fusarium wilt, T – Tobacco
mosaic, N – Nematodes.
Recommended varieties for Colorado include ‘Big Beef,’
‘Early Girl,’ ‘Celebrity,’ ‘Medina,’ ‘Roma,’ ‘Royal
Chico,’ and ‘Sweet 100’ (a cherry tomato).
Tomatoes can be planted as soon as the danger of frost is past.
Using “Walls of Water” and placing a layer of black plastic
on the soil around the plant enables gardeners to get an early,
worry-free start in spring.
Harden off the transplants for about a week before planting them
by setting them outside in the sun for a few hours each day, gradually
increasing the time outdoors.
If the transplants are rootbound, tear or cut apart the rootball
slightly at the bottom to loosen the roots.
Place stakes or tomato cages into position at the time you plant
Water well and keep the soil evenly moist but not saturated.
Once the weather is warm remove the black plastic and apply a
layer of mulch to conserve moisture and keep the soil temperature even.
Fertilize with a water-soluble plant food designed for vegetables
or tomatoes. Follow label
directions carefully. Too
much fertilizer results in lots of leaves and no tomatoes. To prevent fertilizer burn of plant leaves, be sure plants
have been well watered prior to applying a foliar fertilizer to the
leaves. Also, avoid
fertilizing plants on hot days when the temperature will be 85° F or higher.
Inspect plants frequently for pests. If you see black pepper-sized specks, start looking for
green-colored tomato hornworms. You
can control these by picking them off.