This may seem counterintuitive, but you may want to plant three or four varieties of tomatoes, especially if this is your first year planting them. By growing a few different varieties in the same year, you can determine which is best. The local climate, soil type, and garden location will all affect your tomatoes, and you may find that one variety grows much better than the others. After that, you can focus on that one variety, if you want.
The best location for tomatoes to grow is in direct sunlight with shelter from the wind. The sun will give the tomatoes all the energy and nutrients they need to grow, and the protection from the sun will allow them to grow without their root and vine system being compromised.
Speaking of root systems, plant your tomato seeds four inches deep. This promotes a strong and healthy root system. If you live in a really hot climate, you may want to plant them six inches deep in order to access moister soil.
You may also consider composting your soil. I highly suggest this since the compost will provide more nutrients for the tomatoes to absorb. This may not be necessary, but it can definitely help if your tomatoes seem to be struggling to grow.
Once the tomatoes have grown and are beginning to sprout flowers and other runners, pinch and prune them. The flowers may be pretty, but they’re taking away energy that could be used to grow better tomatoes. Also, the runners and growths in the joins of the stem take away energy too. By pruning and pinching them off, you help the plant conserve energy.
For those with limited ground space, use cages, trellises, or stakes for vertical growth. This is actually a great idea even if you have a large garden. Vertical growth makes it easier to harvest when the time comes, plus it can also help prevent infestation and fungal growth.
When your tomatoes get to about 3 feet in height, remove the leaves from the bottom foot of the stem. These are the oldest leaves on the plant, and they’re the ones most likely to grow rot and fungus. By removing them, you’re saving yourself possible work in the future. It’s just a nice precautionary measure to grow the healthiest tomato plants possible.
Remember to water your tomato plant regularly. Now, this is always important, but irregular and infrequent watering can actually do more damage to tomatoes than good. Poor watering habits can lead to the tomatoes drying out or even growing rot, neither of which are good. Most experts say your tomato plant should get at least 1 inch of water a week.