Quick Garden Tips
- Plant tomatoes outside as small plants (called “starts”) when the soil temperature is at least 55 degrees F and nighttime temperatures are above 45 degrees F.
- For best results, choose sturdy tomato starts that are short and dark green. Avoid starts that are leggy (tall and floppy), yellow or have started flowering.
- Plant the starts deeper than the pot they were grown in, with only a few sets of leaves showing above the soil.
- Add an all-purpose fertilizer in the bottom of the planting hole at planting time and around the plant about every 3 weeks until tomatoes ripen. Follow directions on the fertilizer container.
- Most tomatoes need extra support. Provide a sturdy tomato cage, stake or trellis at planting time.
- Keep the soil evenly moist until tomatoes appear, then water deeply 1 or 2 times a week.
Season and Location
- Tomatoes need at least 8 hours of direct sun each day.
Often listed on the plant or seed label.
- Determinant: bushy plants need less support; tomatoes ripen at about the same time. Can be grown in containers or in the ground.
- Indeterminant: taller, wider plants must have support; tomatoes ripen over a longer season. Better for growing in the ground.
- Choose a determinate type with smaller sized tomatoes.
- Plant one tomato in at least a 5-gallon container. Larger containers allow for a bigger harvest.
- Requires frequent and even watering.
Key Pests and Diseases
- Tomato hornworm: pick off worms
- Aphids: hose off with water
- Blossom end rot: mulch plants and keep soil moisture even. Some varieties, such as Roma, are more prone to this condition, so choose other varieties if it is a problem in your garden.
When to Plant and Harvest Tomatoes in Oregon
- Central and Eastern: Plant seeds indoors early March. Plant May through early June to harvest July through September.
- Willamette Valley: Plant seeds indoors late February through early March. Plant late April through May to harvest July through September.
- Coast: Plant seeds indoors early March. Plant May through June to harvest July through August.
Recommended Types to Grow
There are over 4,000 tomato types in many colors, shapes and sizes!
- Small fruited/cherry: Chocolate Cherry, Juliet, Sungold, SunSugar, Sweet Million
- Slicer/Early: Oregon Spring
- Slicer/Mid season: Carmello, Celebrity, Fantastic
- Slicer/heirloom: Black Krim, Brandywine, Cosmonaut Volkov, Green Zebra
- Paste: San Marzano
- Container: Early Girl, Patio, Gold Nugget, Red Robin, Little Napoli
When and How to Harvest
- Harvest tomatoes before they are completely ripe. Twist tomatoes off the vine or cut the stem with clippers or scissors to avoid hurting the plant.
- Unripe tomatoes that are starting to turn color can be taken indoors to ripen. Harvest these tomatoes when outdoor temperatures go below 50 degrees F.
Storage and Cooking
- Store tomatoes at room temperature away from direct sunlight. Plan to use within a few days after they ripen.
- Refrigerating ripe tomatoes can help delay softening but may reduce flavor.
- Tomatoes are enjoyed raw and cooked. Add to pizza, sandwiches and salads or use in sauces, soups and salsas.
- Try this Food Hero recipe: Baked Tomatoes with Cheese