Growing Tomatoes 101

Site Selection

Site selection is incredibly important for growing tomatoes. Tomatoes should be grown in areas that receive full sun. South or Western facing areas are preferable. 6 hours of sunlight is generally the minimum requirement for successful tomato growing. Depending on personal circumstances and varieties, tomatoes can be grown in containers, raised garden beds or rows.

Amending the Soil

Tomatoes prefer a soil pH of about 6-6.8. (7 being neutral). Colorado soils that have never been amended are typically around 8.5. Amending the soil with Mushroom Compost or Sheep and Peat is recommended to reach a a more acidic and favorable pH level. Work 3-4” of the chosen soil amendment into 4-6” of existing soil to improve soil properties.

Variety Selection

Depending on whether you are growing in containers, raised beds or in rows, you will want to select a variety or varieties that are suitable for the amount of space you have.

Heirloom vs. Hybrid

Heirlooms indicate that the seeds are openly pollinated and that the seeds collected produce plants that resemble the parent plant. Hybrids indicate that the seeds were crossbred from 2 or more parents.

Determinate vs. Indeterminate

If tomatoes are labeled “Determinate” that means that they grow to a certain size and typically produce fruit all at once. Indeterminate tomatoes continuously produce fruit while temperatures remain warm.


A safe bet to planting is to wait until May 30th, which is the first frost free date in the Front Range area this year. Typically, you want to cover the stem up to the plants’ leaves because the roots will grow along the buried stem to increase the plants’ strength and vigor.