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9 Tomato-Growing Tips For Beginner Gardeners

A few easy tricks make a big difference.

If you’re thinking of planting tomatoes from seed next year (or you’re wondering why yours didn’t work out) try spacing out the seedlings. They need space to grow, and the plants should go in their own small pots with strong light as soon as they sprout leaves.Nilsson, Huett, Ulf/Getty Images
Putting a fan near your seedlings or moving them outside every now and then can really help. Nope, it’s not to cool them off, but instead to help them sway and develop strong stems that will make for hearty plants later on.Shutterstock
Before transferring your plant outside, make sure the soil has had time to heat up (it can be helpful to cover the area where you plan to plant with a plastic tarp if you’re really going for it. This bottle trick works to keep seedlings warm.mikroman6/Moment/Getty Images
So you, Mother Nature, or your overzealous child over-watered your tomato plants — all might not be lost. If it’s plant’s still in a pot, try pulling it out, resting it on newspaper to drain, and removing any soaking wet dirt that doesn’t contain roots.Shutterstock
Tomatoes are top-heavy so they’ll need support as they grow. Attach your plants to metal or wooden stakes, or use tomato cages. This also keeps tomatoes from dragging on the ground where pests can feast.Shutterstock
You don’t want to overwater your tomato plants, but the opposite isn’t great either. They need about 1-2 inches of water per week, so if you live in a dry climate, water them regularly in small amounts. Wilting is a sure sign that you have thirsty plants.Shutterstock
What you plant near your tomatoes matters, too. Herbs like dill and fennel help control caterpillars, while basil helps to keep away disease-spreading thrips (and you’ll have 2/3 of the makings for a caprese salad).©TastyFood&Photography/Moment/Getty Images
In wetter climates, your tomato plant may be more susceptible to disease (anthracnose, verticillium, early or late blight, fusarium wilt, and more). Try getting a hybrid-variety which are often bred to be more disease-resistant.Andreas Krumwiede /EyeEm/Getty Images
Pruning tomatoes makes for the most fruit. Pinch off “suckers” (aka new growth) on the main and side stems, ideally in the same direction as the stems. As the plant grows, pinch off lower leaves that begin to yellow.Shutterstock