Tomatoes come in all shapes and sizes. I usually plant a larger variety for canning(love Roma for sauce) and smaller ones for eating earlier – especially in salads – like the cherry tomatoes. I like to sow seed directly outside after Mother's Day/Memorial Day in Western NY area but you can also buy plants from the nursery if needed. Try to get heirloom so you can save the seed next year and plant your own on a warm and sunny windowsill in your home early or directly plant outside.
If needed - begin hardening the plants to the outdoors if they were indoors only. Simply – just take them outside daily to get them used to the weather – then bring them in at night. Before planting outside in pots or garden - I like to pull off (very gently) all but a few leaves on the top and plant most of the seedling in the ground. This increases their root system and makes them a sturdier plant in the long run. You want tomatoes with sturdy stems – not tall and lanky – because one good wind storm and they will break. Plant only one tomato per pot(it will get big) or space at least a foot apart from others. I use tomato cages and place around each plant after I put them in soil. As they grow you can tie (with old panty hose strips or fabric) for extra support. If you don’t want to invest in tomato cages – you can use three sticks and form a teepee around the plant for support.
I plant my tomatoes with broken eggs shells for added nutrients and to keep slugs away. Raw eggshells can be broken down – but it is easier to use hard boiled egg shells. Just break down and place right on top of the soil. The next time you make hardboiled eggs – keep the egg water – cool down – and water your tomatoes with it. They love that calcium filled water! Coffee grounds on your tomatoes give it a boost of nitrogen that they love too. No need to buy any chemicals to feed your tomatoes - just get in the kitchen. Starbucks also save coffee grounds for you if asked - and many times I see bags waiting at the pick up area labeled for gardeners!!
Prune tomato suckers as they grow to get a stronger stem, more fruit, and less branches.Tomato suckers, or side shoots, are the growth that appears in the crotch between the stem and a branch.