Essential guide to tomato cultivation


The cultivation of tomato is a widespread work worldwide. In fact, it is one of the best known plants by the population. For having so much prominence, it is necessary to have some knowledge about the correct way of growing. Today, at Gardenprue, we are going to show you the keys to its cultivation and the demands it requires throughout its growth.

We always like to make an introduction talking about this amazing plant. Don’t you know the tomato plant or its fruit, the tomato? Then you are not of this world, that of course. It is one of the most famous and consumed vegetables in the world.

Solanum lycopersicum is its scientific name. It can also be known as a tomato, especially in areas of Latin America. It belongs (of course!) To the Solanaceae family  and to the Solanum genus  (hence its scientific name). 

Today we can see it cultivated anywhere, and we do not refer to it geographically. A summer garden is almost always made up of tomato cultivation, among others. Not only the classic garden located on the ground, but the garden in pots located on the terrace, balcony or inside the house, and the cultivation tables.

Tomato plants. Photo by Henry Burrows


The tomato plant  is a type of plant that adapts well to a wide variety of climates. The exception lies in climates prone to frost, a phenomenon to which tomatoes are sensitive. In fact, depending on the vegetative development of the tomato, it requires a frost-free period of 110 days, without suffering loss of yield.


In tomato cultivation, the optimal temperature range is as shown below:

  •  Night temperatures: 15-18 ºC
  • Daytime temperatures 24-25 ºC
  • Ideal flowering temperature: 21 ºC
  • Ideal temperature for vegetative development: 22-23 ºC
  • Vegetative development stop temperature: 12 ºC
  • Temperature below 7 ºC is not beneficial.

As you can see, the range of temperatures it needs to grow is high, with optimal values ​​being above 20 ºC. If you consult the FAO table on negative temperatures and frost , you will see that the tomato is among the vegetables that suffer the most from the cold (such as peppers, potatoes, lettuce, etc.).

Its freezing temperature is around -0.5 ºC.


With regard to humidity in tomato cultivation , the tomato plant requires medium humidity, which does not exceed 70%. If we exceed these values, it will favor the development of fungi.

Foto by: Thomas Bresson


Tomato is not a very demanding plant in terms of soil. It prefers deep, well-draining soils. As it has a shallow root system, its adaptation to poor soils is good. We insist on the characteristics of drainage, since excessive irrigation in which the soil cannot absorb the water quickly enough, produces a ponding that rots the roots and favors the development of diseases.


The ideal pH for tomato cultivation is close to neutral (7), having to be corrected with amendments in the case of acidic or basic soils. These amendments must be made together with the preparation of the land, and not once the tomato plant is planted in the field.


Sure, and you will tell me. How can I tell if my soil is acidic or basic?

If you need to know the pH of your garden to know which are the best vegetables, fruits and vegetables that you can grow, you can refer to this article where we tell you the secrets to know the pH of the soil at home. 

In our book, The Garden at its Purest , we talked at length about the pH of the garden.


Regarding the content of organic matter, the minimum percentage of content in the soil is around 1.5-2%. If the content is lower, consider adding organic matter or compost.

Interesting articles about compost:

Check out our articles on compost to enrich the soil in organic matter available for the crop.


The land must be given a deep work and in it the background fertilizer that we have mentioned above must be applied.

 The contribution of nitrogen as a background fertilizer for tomato cultivation is not recommended . It is only recommended in those cases where the soil is very poor or with very low nitrogen levels. Amounts of ammonium sulfate in a proportion of 300-400 kg / ha are advisable to correct these deficiencies.

But the incorporation of phosphorus into the soil is recommended , since it contributes enormously to the development of tomato roots and in flowering. An example may be the incorporation of superphosphate of lime as a base fertilizer.

 For the fruit to develop correctly, it needs a potassium- based fertilizer . Values ​​around 5-10% are advisable in the soil (cation exchange capacity), so it is recommended to incorporate between 400-500 kg / ha of potassium sulfate.

We have already completed the NPK relationship, let’s continue.


It is important to select the tomato variety according to the conditions of our plot and the objectives pursued. Take a look in the tomato varieties section  to find out.

Tomato varieties

We have made an entry about the Raf Pata Negra tomato , a variety from the south of Spain, Almería, with great organoleptic characteristics. You can also know information about the beef heart tomato . Recently we have also dedicated another entry to the famous Kumato tomato


The planting framework when planting in final soil is variable and depends on the space you have. It can be 0.3 m between plants and 0.5 m between rows, if you have or want to use little space, or 0.5 m between plants and 0.7 m between rows.

As we usually say, these planting frames can be reduced the more fluffier and better characteristics the soil has. For example, if you set up a John Seymour deep bed in your organic garden , the planting frame is reduced.


Well, because the roots of the tomato plant do not need to deepen or search for nutrients, since they have enough quantity always at hand. Therefore, there is no competition (or if there is, it is minimal) between crops. Thus, the planting frame increases considerably.


The tomato plant requires constant humidity, given the high temperatures that are obtained in summer. Don’t let the soil dry out. Although each garden is different, especially by the geographical area in which you are and the climate, there is a table with the water needs in tomato cultivation that may be able to help you.

Water needs of the tomato plant.


 The tomato, being a herbaceous plant, requires a support system that protects the foliage and fruits from deterioration caused by soil moisture and the action of microorganisms and insects and pests.

The main tutoring systems can be seen in the photo:

Tomato tutor


Well yes, although you may think that only trees and shrubs are pruned, herbaceous plants can also receive pruning to improve their production and balance their growth.

Pruning in tomato cultivation is constituted as training, that is, eliminating too long, diseased, old lateral stems, etc.

The blunting is also carried out, through which it is possible to increase the circulation of sap and nutrients through the main stem, to the detriment of the secondary stems.

You can see all this and some more in the specific tasks of tomato cultivation , another entry from us.


We have pests and diseases typical of the time where the tomato plant is grown, and of the Solanaceae.

Among the pests:

  • Red spider ( Tetranychus spp. )
  • Heliothis (Helicoverpa armígera)
  • White fly ( Bemisia tabaci )
  • Minadores (Liriomyza spp.)
  • Tomato moth ( Tuta absolu )
  • Trips (Frankliniella occidentalis)

Tomato horned worm. Photo by: StevenW.

And among the diseases:

  • Mildiu (Phytophthora infestans)
  • Powdery mildew ( Leveillula taurica )
  • Gray rot ( Botrytis cinerea )

In agromática we dedicate an entry to pests and diseases in tomato, if you have not seen it yet, find out about the problem and the treatment here.


We prefer to call them adventitious herbs rather than “weeds” since they almost certainly have some specific use, be it culinary or medicinal.

In tomato cultivation, it is important to keep competing herbs that grow around the tomato stem at a distance, especially due to the good fertility and soil moisture conditions that occur around the plant’s wet bulb.

If it is a small garden, you can remove them by hand or with a hoe. Try not to step around the area where the tomato plant grows, as you will only be able to crush the earth and reduce its porosity, worsening the drainage and a lot of physical properties that it can have if you take good care of your garden.

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