Tomatoes get a lot of attention in the garden, and for good reason—they’re pretty much the crème de la crème of the grow-it-yourself world. Grabbing tomatoes from the store can just never compete with plucking your own sweet, juicy, vine-ripened cluster of fruit from a lush canopy of green growing right in your own backyard. 

how to grow tomatoes in central texas

How Tomatoes Are Grown in Central Texas

Tomatoes are sun-lovers, heavy feeders, and deep drinkers. They’re known for being picky, but all you have to do is follow these tips to be rewarded with many delicious fruits. 

Where to Grow Tomatoes 

Choose a site that gets plenty of sun! Tomatoes (like all fruiting plants you might grow in a kitchen garden) require at least 6 hours of sun but will be much more productive with 8 or more hours of sun a day. Choose a day to track the sunlight hours in your backyard, and either place a deep container or grow bag in the sunniest spot or select the garden bed that receives the most consistent direct sun to grow your tomatoes.  

tomatoes growing in central texas

Tomato-growing pro tip:

Tomatoes can burn in hot afternoon sun from the west, so morning sunlight is ideal. If your plants can receive their 6 to 8 hours earlier in the day, they’ll appreciate a little shade in the last few hours of the day. (If you notice your plants are getting scorched by late afternoon sun, cover them with a shade cloth to filter some of the harsh light.)

How to Grow Tomatoes from Seeds

To give tomato plants the maximum time to enjoy themselves in our gardens while the weather is ideal (not too hot and not too cold—just nice and warm), we recommend starting tomatoes by seed indoors. Follow these steps to start your tomatoes indoors in January for our spring crop and in late July/August for our fall crop. 

Make sure to follow the schedule in our seed starting guide to harden your tomato seedlings off before planting them in your garden.

tomatoes to ripen

How to Plant Tomatoes

Tomatoes love rich and well-draining soil, so add a fresh 2- to 3-inch layer of compost to the top of your bed before planting. Remember: When you bring home a plant, grab a bag of compost to go with it.

Dig a hole for your tomato plants that’s wider than the width of the plant and deeper than the root ball. Pull off the first couple leaves at the bottom of the plant and then bury the tomato plant deeper than its neck (where the stem meets the roots). This will encourage your plant to grow more roots and create a strong support structure that will later be able to handle all that heavy fruit. 

How to Fertilize Tomatoes

Tomatoes are heavy feeders, meaning they need lots of nutrients to produce high yields of fruit. In addition to compost, we like to add an all purpose organic fertilizer such as  Microlife Mulit Purpose when the tomato plants are young. We like to use potassium and phosphorus based fertilizers once the plants are flowering such as MicroLife Maximum Blooms. Though you can also try an organic and tomato-specific fertilizer if you prefer. Just follow the label’s directions on all products you use in your garden.

tomatoes in raised beds

How Often to Water Tomatoes

Tomatoes need deep and consistent watering to produce good-quality fruit. Fluctuations in watering can cause the fruit to split or not properly form, so make a plan to water your tomatoes regularly.

You’ll most likely need to water your tomatoes every day during our warmer, drier months. You can water by hand in the early morning. We recommend using a long watering wand so that you can get right to the base of the plants. Water deeply to encourage the roots to reach down, not stay shallow, to find water.

Another watering method is to install drip irrigation prior to planting, with a timer at your spigot to give your plants a deep drink at regular intervals. Garden in Minutes is a great DIY kit for installing drip irrigation in your garden.

Tomatoes can suffer from diseases, most of which are splashed up from the soil, so watering with drip lines or gently at the base with a wand can prevent these diseases.

tomato harvest

By giving your tomatoes a strong foundation, you’re setting yourself up to harvest cluster after cluster of delicious fruits right off the vine! Remove tomato plants planted in the spring once the weather climbs over 95 degrees, and pull your fall tomato plants from the garden before we get our first frost. 

Let us know what questions you have about growing tomatoes here in Austin, TX. We love helping you set up your own kitchen gardens and become confident gardeners. If you’re ready to set up your garden for the next growing season, now is the perfect time. Click here to start growing with us!

Central Texas Monthly Planting Guide

Take all the guesswork out of your seasonal planting.

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how to grow tomatoes