All tomatoes fall into one of two categories: Indeterminate plants bear fruit continuously up until frost; determinate plants set one large crop and are finished once it ripens. The numerous fruit types -- including currant, cherry, slicing, plum, and beefsteak -- may fall into either category. Heirlooms, whose seeds have been saved and passed on by gardeners, are frequently indeterminate.


Indeterminate plants have long, sprawling vines requiring heavy-duty staking; determinate plants are bushy and can be contained by tomato cages.

Days to Harvest

55 to 85

When to Plant

Tomatoes should be started indoors six weeks before the last frost and only transplanted into the garden when the soil has warmed and frost no longer threatens.


Full sun.


Rich, well-drained top soil, ideally amended with compost.


Water frequently and consistently. Mulch keeps the soil evenly moist.


Tomatoes have high fertility requirements, so apply an organic fertilizer at planting and again at midseason.

Pest problems

Aphids can be knocked off with a strong stream of water from the hose; tomato hornworms are large, green caterpillars that can be hand-picked and destroyed. Also subject to several diseases that can be minimized by rotating crop, using resistant varieties, and mulching around the plants.

When to Harvest

Harvest when ripe. at the end of the season, green tomatoes can be ripened indoors.


Tomato, Cantaloupe, and Basil Salad with Tomato Water

Frozen Bloody Marys

Bread and Tomato Soup (Pappa al Pomodoro)

Tomato Tart

Comments (2)

Martha Stewart Member
April 21, 2010
Basic tomato planting, does anyone have any tips on planting Heirloom varieties that are prone to diseases? I love the Heirloom varieties but have had difficulty the past two years with either aphids and/or spider mites.
Martha Stewart Member
April 21, 2010
Basic tomato planting