Tomato Growing 101

May 6, 2016

Many gardeners consider Mother's Day to be the starting gun that signals the beginning of tomato planting season.

On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Iowa State University horticulturists Linda Naeve and Richard Jauron about what varieties to pick, how to plant, staking and caging, managing diseases, and how to successfully grow tomatoes in containers.

“Hardening off” the plants

“Whether you grow your transplants at home or you buy them at the garden center, I would suggest taking a few days to a week and setting them outdoors in a shady non-windy area, and gradually giving them more light every day. This way, when they hit the garden, they’re ready to go. They’re acclimated to the outdoor conditions,” says Naeve. “And if they wilt in their cell packs a little bit, water them, they perk up – that’s part of the hardening process.”


“I’ve seen people put cages around them,” says Naeve, “but you can’t use chicken wire, you have to use reinforcement wire, so you can bring the fruit out of the cage reach through and grab that fruit when you’re harvesting it.”

Disease management

“Rotate, rotate, rotate,” says Jauron, “beause the plant pathogens can persist in the soil for at least 2 or 3 years.”