Selecting A Site for your Tomatoes

Tomatoes love sun and heat and should be grown in full exposure where possible. This is especially important in cooler climates where cool summers are common. Low temperatures are the primary reasons for failure of flowers to set fruit.

Extreme temperatures of between 95-105º F (35-40º C) can cause flowers to fall off their buds and poor fruit set can occur if the plants are sheltered from the sun and wind. Tomatoes are self-pollinators, that is the flowers contain both male and female organs. The pollen has to be transferred to the ovary and this requires some type of motion such as provided by the wind. So tomatoes should be planted where they can receive full exposure to both the sun and wind.

In extremely windy conditions, staked tomatoes can be damaged as they rub on the stake. Wind also increases water loss unless the site is well mulched. The prime time to guard against wind damage is from fruit set until harvest. Windbreaks can help to reduce these problems as long as they are placed far enough from the tomatoes to prevent shading and that they don’t interfere with the growth of the tomatoes.

If possible, tomatoes grow well on a level site. If this isn’t possible, tomatoes can be grown on a slope but care should be taken to prevent soil erosion.

  • Place mulch around the tomato plant being careful to keep the mulch away from the stem to prevent stem rot.
  • Maintain a strip of grass below the tomato to slow runoff.
  • Run beds along the contour of the slope to maintain water retention and minimize erosion.
  • Dig a contour below the tomatoes to catch water and soil.