Timberlane Gardens

Tomato & Pepper Planting Guides

Ready to plant your garden but need some tips for success? Read our Tomato and Pepper planting guides.

 Tomato Planting Guide

Plant in Full Sun (six or more hours of sun per day).

Transplant into well worked garden soil after the last frost, when soil is 55 - 60 degrees and the night temperatures are over 45 degrees. Blend 1/4 cup of organic fertilizer into the soil around each plant. Space 20 -30 inches apart.

Harvest - When tomato is red (or color of the variety planted) and firm to the touch.

Tips - Plant in fertile soil amended with compost. Mulch and provide even moisture. When plants are established, provide 1 inch of water per week. Plant deeper than they were growing in the containers as it makes for a stronger root system.

Secrets to Success »

Plant tomatoes in full sun (six or more hours of sun per day).

Plant deeply so that two-thirds of the plant is buried, stem and all. It will sprout roots. This makes the plant stronger and more resistant to drought or other challenges.

Fertilize throughout the growing season with an Organic Vegetable Plant Food, which plants love and is good for your soil. Don’t over-fertilize these vigorous vines, though, or you’ll run the risk of getting tall plants with little fruit.

Water regularly. Tomatoes need steady watering to develop to full size and prevent cracking and blossom end rot. To keep the soil moist, mix compost into planting holes, and mulch around the plants after the soil warms. When watering, try to keep the foliage dry. Wet leaves encourage disease.

Support vigorous vines with 8-foot stakes, tall trellis, or sturdy wire cage. Keeping vines off of the ground makes it easier to harvest, keeps fruit clean, and helps prevent disease. You may need to tie individual stems to the cage or a stake as they weigh down with the fruit.

Harvest and Use »

When tomatoes start turning from green to red, keep an eye on them. You can pick once shoulders or tops of fruit start blushing red and let them ripen off the vine, or wait to pick the reddest vine-ripe tomatoes to can, cook sauce or paste, or slow roast. Pick vine-ripe tomatoes to slice on a plate, chop in a salad, or enjoy on a sandwich.

The red tomato is considered a “superfood” for its wealth of vitamins and antioxidants, including cancer-fighting lycopene.

For home canning, pick tomatoes on the day you plan to can, if possible. This ensures freshest flavor for your efforts.

Try These Garden Companions »

  • Cilantro, peppers, and onions—all the ingredients you need for creating garden fresh salsa.
  • Sweet basil for tomato-and-basil salad or sandwich.
  • Parsley, rosemary, and oregano for continental cuisine.
  • Black Krim, Cherokee Purple or Kellogg’s Breakfast, for diverse tomato colors and flavors.
  • Mortgage Lifter, Cherokee Purple or Brandywine for big heirloom tomatoes
  • Matt’s Wild Cherry, Sungold, Sun Sugar or any cherry tomato, which bears all season.
  • Sweet Basil, Onion, Bell Pepper, and Oregano for a delicious tomato sauce.

 Pepper Planting Guide

Plant in Full Sun (six or more hours of sun per day).

Transplant into well worked garden soil after the last frost, when soil is 65 degrees. Blend 1/4 cup of organic fertilizer into the soil around each plant. Space 18 inches apart.

Harvest - Using a sharp instrument, pick first peppers when they reach usable size. This helps accelerate the growth of the other peppers on the plant. Leave some on to mature, to color and sweeten up.

Tips - Plant in fertile , well composted soil. Mulch and provide even moisture. It helps to use row cover early in the season, giving the plants extra warmth, especially in northern climates. Side dress with an organic vegetable fertilizer when flowers begin to form.

Secrets to Success »

Plant peppers in full sun (six or more hours of sun per day).

Peppers are very cold-sensitive. Begin planting two weeks after the last frost. If you plant early, cover with a row cover for frost protection and extra warmth.

Peppers need a steady supply of moisture for good fruit development. Water regularly for the plants to produce the most peppers. To help keep the soil moist, mix compost into planting holes, and mulch around plants.

Pepper branches are brittle. Stake plants as fruits start to form, tying pepper-laden branches to stakes, or use small tomato cages for support.

Fertilize regularly with Organic Vegetable Plant Food.

Fresh peppers are easy to grow in containers.

Harvest and Use »

Snip peppers from the plants with a sharp knife or clippers, leaving a small portion of stem attached. Rinse and dry; store in the refrigerator. The more peppers you pick, the more you’ll get. Peppers are packed with Vitamins A and C—twice the vitamin C of an orange! Slice peppers into fresh salads, salsa, or stir-fry to add fantastic crunch and sweetness.

To string red peppers, thread through pepper stems and hang in a warm spot with low humidity until fruits dry. Red peppers dry best.

Try These Garden Companions »

  • Sweet onion, Thai basil, squash, and cherry tomatoes for stir-fry.
  • Different types of peppers to taste the flavors and types available: sweet, hot, mildly hot, pickling, and stuffing types.
  • Cilantro, tomatoes, and onions—all the ingredients you need for creating garden fresh salsa.
  • Low growing flowers such as petunias and marigolds—colorful-fruited peppers look great tucked into flower beds.