Lifehack logo

Three Tips for Successfully Growing Tomatoes in Your Own Garden

These hints can help you maximize your harvest

By Denise SheltonPublished 3 years ago 4 min read
Three Tips for Successfully Growing Tomatoes in Your Own Garden
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

This article contains product references. The author does not receive compensation if you make purchases through any of the links.

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” --Lewis Grizzard

Google “growing tomatoes,” and you’ll get 110 million results (seriously). You can’t go through all of them, so here are three of the tips I found online that worked well for me.

1. Drip water below ground level


Start saving those plastic milk jugs! The principle is simple. Wet leaves promote the growth of fungal diseases in tomatoes, so you should water them at the root. This method also lessens water loss from evaporation and makes applying liquid fertilizer easy.

There are several variations on this technique, but the one I use is to punch a small hole in the bottom corner of a clean, half-gallon milk jug.

I then dig a hole next to the plant, big enough and deep enough to bury the jug halfway, placing the corner with the hole in it nearest the stem. You should do this when the plant is small to avoid disturbing the roots.

This video shows an alternative method that is especially good if you are experiencing a heatwave or live in a warm climate:

If you live in a place with hot summers, like Texas, you’ll want to use the gallon size jug. Where I live in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, we get a fair amount of summer rain, so I’ve found the half-gallon size to be adequate.

Simply remove the cap from the jug, fill it with water, and let it drip. To apply liquid fertilizer, add the amount recommended for the capacity of the container you’re using and enough water to fill the jug. No pre-mixing required!

Some people like to replace the cap after watering, but I never have. I imagine it may slow evaporation when the temperatures soar.

2. Jumpstart the season with tomato teepees

Tomato teepee (Source:

A few years ago, I planted my tomatoes before the ground temperature was consistently at 60 degrees in the daytime and 50 degrees at night. For a solid month, they just sat there and didn’t grow an inch. Then I started using tomato teepees, and everything changed.

The tomato teepee is a cylinder of plastic pockets filled with water that surrounds the tomato plant. This arrangement allows the water to store heat from the sun to warm the soil and protect the plant.

The trick is to place the filled tomato teepee over the spot where the plant will go for at least a week before you plant it. Teepees allow the soil to warm to an optimum temperature so that when you plant your tomatoes, they’re ready to roll.

Warming the soil before planting (Source:

Insert a one-by-one-inch, four-foot stake next to the plant before replacing the teepee. The stake will provide not only support for the plant, but it will keep the teepee from blowing over in a high wind. You may need help to lift it over the stake or to squeeze some water out of the teepee first if it’s too heavy to lift.

Afterward, keep the teepee filled with water, and it will provide protection and warmth throughout the early part of the season. Once the weather heats up, I squeeze the water out but leave the empty teepee bunched around the base of the plant. It acts as a mulch and helps keep critters away. Buy the red ones since red mulch is proven to increase tomato yields.

3. Reap the benefits of grafted tomato plants

(Source: SuperNaturals Grafted Vegetables LLC)

If you’ve grown tomato plants before, you have no doubt experienced the heartbreak that fungal diseases can bring. Your once lush, green, glorious plant starts to look like the crypt keeper. Production slows to a crawl, and the plague spreads to other plants.

Seed companies have engineered disease-resistant varieties, but if you have your heart set on growing heirloom tomatoes because they taste better, grafted plants can provide some of the same protection without sacrificing flavor.

You can buy them already grafted or graft them yourself. There are several How-To videos online that can show you what to do. Here's one from Ohio State University:

The grafting process marries heirloom tomato plants to a hearty, disease-resistant rootstock. As long as the heirloom part of the plant stays above the soil and does not put out roots, it will be protected and nourished by the rootstock below.

There is a plastic clip at the graft point that will eventually fall off as the plant grows. A grafted plant may still contract a fungal disease, but the plant will be able to cope with it better and keep producing.


Last year, I had a grafted Amish Paste plant that was a superstar, growing bigger than any of my other plants and producing numerous tomatoes continuously until the first freeze.

As I stated before, you’ll find no shortage of information online about how to grow tomatoes. These are just a few of the tips I found to be exceptionally useful. I hope they help you to have a successful growing season!

Read about how some garden suppliers mislead you about what you should expect from their products here.


About the Creator

Denise Shelton

Denise Shelton writes on a variety of topics and in several different genres. Frequent subjects include history, politics, and opinion. She gleefully writes poetry The New Yorker wouldn't dare publish.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.