The First Plant in the Garden

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Tomato … Tomäto

There is something special about a homegrown tomato. Something even more special by growing food in your own backyard. No matter what I am growing, whether it’s a fruit or vegetable, I can almost taste the sunshine in it.

That’s why last summer, I had three separate gardens. There were eight different tomato plants growing in them. Five of these tomato varieties were heirloom tomatoes…My favorite. If there is any tomato I can stand behind it’s the tomatoes that look like squashed clown faces and are multi-colored.

Never know what to do with all of your homegrown tomatoes? Here’s a fun and easy recipe to eat them all year around! homemade tomato sauce 

Since April is National Gardening Month, I thought what a better way to get people gardening than by showing them how to properly plant a tomato.

For me, tomatoes are staples in the garden and I want to show you how to get the most from your plant.

Tomato 101: Bury the Stem

Planting a Tomato NoFarmNeeded

Number one rule of planting a tomato plant (unless the tomato is grafted)…. Always bury the stem. 

I know, it seems a little counterproductive to bury almost 2/3rds of the plant underground. However, with your tomato plant buried you will get a better root system and more stability. Sometimes, I think I also get bigger tomatoes.

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Fred Gonsowki did a wonderful depiction above. Take your tomato plant, pick off the stems and leaves up until the soil line. I usually leave three stems at the top and that’s how I know where my soil line should be. Then dig your hole, put your tomato plant in, and cover with soil. A little water and sunlight should do the trick for your best tomato plant this season!

Why You Should Not Bury Grafted Tomatoes

There are now tomato plants that are grafted. Grafted simply means that a grower cut a notch in the root of an heirloom tomato, stuck a hybrid stalk on top, and then tied them together tightly until they fuse.  This gives you the disease resistance of a hybrid and the wonderful root structure of an heirloom tomato.

You do now want to bury the stem because it defeats the purpose of grafting. Burying the stem of a hybrid tomato with an heirloom root system will give you half heirloom root system and half hybrid. Overall, your root system will act like a hybrid root system (not well). So if you get a grafted tomato, do not plant the stem!

…..Actually A Fruit

Tomatoes NoFarmNeeded

For me, a tomato is considered a vegetable. I eat it as my “vegetable serving” in a meal. On a hamburger, the tomato slides in the middle with lettuce, pickles, and onions, while my fruit salad of watermelon, blueberries, and strawberries sits on the side. Scientifically speaking tomatoes are fruits.

“True fruits are developed from the ovary in the base of the flower and contain the seeds of the plant” –

Kind of sad isn’t it? Even if it is an actual fruit, there is no way I will be eating it like an apple! Though I know some of you do. 

What’s The Difference Between Determinate and Indeterminate Tomatoes?


Picture credit:

Determinate tomatoes:

  1. The grow height is put on the labels
  2. Commonly known as “bush” tomatoes because their growth is compact
  3. Stop growing when fruit sets on the top of the buds
  4. The tomatoes ripen near the same time
  5. Usually not stacked or supported
  6. Never prune
  7. Great for containers!

Indeterminate tomatoes:

  1. Can reach heights up to 12 feet. Though it really depends on the variety!
  2. Produce tomatoes all Summer long until killed by frost
  3. Can prune. Sometimes you can get increased yields when the young plant is pruned back to three or four vines.
  4. The plant will bloom while other tomatoes on the plant are ripening or ready to pick

When in Doubt Grow Tomatoes!

Tomatoes NoFarmNeeded

Tomatoes are a wonderful fruit! Even though I don’t always enjoy eating them, they remind me of stars dancing across a garden. Pops of bright red that brighten my day! April is a great time to start your tomatoes or think about starting your tomatoes. I know Florida is already harvesting, while the Midwest won’t start planting their tomatoes until May. A tomato plant is a fantastic way to start National Gardening Month. Look for next week’s blog post for another tip to add to your garden this year!

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