Tomatoes are usually on the top of every gardeners’ list. For good reason too. Nothing beats the taste of a home grown tomato.
Let’s grow some tasty tomatoes !
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Tomatoes are part of the nightshade or Solanaceae family of plants. They can be eaten raw and used in a variety of dishes.
How to Grow Tomatoes in Phoenix
- Tomato Growth Habits
- Types of Tomatoes
- When and how to plant tomatoes
- What grows well near tomatoes and what doesn’t?
- How to care for tomato plants
- Harvesting tomatoes-when is the ideal time to pick tomatoes?
Tomato Growth Habits
Tomato plants have two growth habits: determinate and indeterminate.
Determinate tomato plants grow a few feet high and produce all of their tomatoes for one harvest. Indeterminate tomato plants grow tomatoes throughout the growing season.
If you’re looking to grow tomatoes for your salads or burgers then an indeterminate plant is the best choice. Indeterminate tomato plants grow taller than determinate types. Stake indeterminate tomato plants.
If you’re looking for a large harvest of tomatoes within a few weeks a determinate plant would be the best choice.
Tomato paste is often made with determinate tomatoes. Determinate tomato plants grow like a bush until it reaches a few feet.
Ideally if you plant both types you’ll have all of your favorite tomato varieties to pick from.
Very few edible foods have as many varieties to choose from as tomatoes. Varieties of tomatoes include:
- heirloom (most are indeterminate)
- beefsteak (can be both)
- roma (determinate)
- tigerella (indeterminate)
- cherry (indeterminate) round in shape
- grape are oblong in shape
What I am Currently Growing:
Cherokee Purple tomatoes, Beefsteak tomatoes, Sweet 100 Tomatoes, Tomato Pineapple, and Green Zebra tomatoes.
When to Plant Tomatoes
Tomatoes are warm-season vegetables. They do not tolerate cold weather well. Tomatoes prefer the soil temperature to be around 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Ideal Time to Plant Tomatoes in Phoenix
There is a small window of time to transplant your tomatoes in Phoenix. The ideal time to plant tomato transplants in Phoenix is between mid-February and March. For best results, plant tomatoes after the threat of frost.
Early season varieties and transplant tomatoes work best in Phoenix.
If it is the first time planting tomatoes I recommend choosing an early season variety. Start seeds indoors (6-8 weeks before the last frost) or purchase transplants and plant outside in February (if in gardening zone 9b) or after the danger of frost has passed.
If you live in a warm climate and don’t mind taking some extra steps you can plant tomatoes in the fall and then cover them when it gets cold. I start my tomato seeds indoors and transplant them in the fall and in February. I cover any plants outside when the temperature drops and provide shade during the summer.
How to Plant Tomatoes
Tomatoes need room to grow and need a minimum of one square foot of space per plant.
How to Support Tomato Plants
For taller varieties provide a cage or trellis to support your tomato plants. We like to use bamboo sticks and flexible garden tape to support our tomato plants. As the plant grows you can easily adjust the tape.
Companion Plants for Tomatoes
Tomatoes enjoy the company of carrots, onions, parsley, and chives. They do not like plants from the cabbage family. Do not plant near cabbage, cauliflower or potatoes.
How to Care for Tomatoes
Tomatoes do not tolerate cold weather, but they don’t like the heat either. This means, there is a small window of time to plant tomatoes in Phoenix.
Light Requirements: Tomatoes need full sun or about 6-8 hours of sun a day. Plant tomatoes where they will receive enough sun to grow and produce fruit.
Soil Requirements: Prefers fertile well-drained soil. Tomatoes can grow in any soil if it has good drainage. Tomatoes prefer slightly acidic pH. The soil pH range of 6 -6.5 is ideal.
Water Requirements: Like most vegetables and fruits, tomatoes like moist soil. Water tomato plants three times per week during their growing season or as needed. Tomatoes can crack if they are allowed to dry out and then watered too much.
Tomato harvest times vary from 50-80+ days depending on the variety planted. In Phoenix it is preferable to plant early-season varieties. Transplanted tomato plants are ready to harvest between mid-March and May.