Like the old song goes "You say tomato, I say tomahto", everyone has their own interpretation of what it takes to grow and harvest tomatoes. I have read about the planting the plant on its side trick, or the planting the tomato plant with a dead fish trick or the question of whether to plant a determinant or indeterminate variety, the list goes on and on....There are so many tricks and rules you may just feel like calling the whole thing off.
Tomatoes are an easy plant to grow, anyone can do it. I have always had a successful crop of tomatoes and my secret has been to have four main ingredients:
Fertilizer- Any complete vegetable fertilizer will do. I use an organic fertilizer such as E.B. Stone's Organic Vegetable and Tomato Fertilizer. I also use fish emulsion, which is a liquid fertilizer mixed with water. Fish emulsion liquid fertilizer is the fastest way the plant can receives nutrients and is known as foliar feeding.
Support-Most Tomato growers would agree, there are two main methods of support for tomato plants staking and cage. In Pat Welsh's book Southern California Gardening a month to month guide She explains the two techniques in great detail but I will give you the shorter version.
The cage method- bend a 6 1/2-foot length of 5-foot-tall, 6-by-6 hardware cloth or cement-reinforcing wire to make a round cage 2 feet across. Place the cage over the tomato plant (make sure it is anchored down to withstand wind). With this method no pruning is involved, just let the branches climb up inside the cage. With this method the fruit will be smaller but you will get more fruit.
The next method is the staking method. Stake each tomato plant with one 8-foot-tall stake that you embed in the ground. Prune all side suckers and allow only one main trunk to grow. This method takes a lot of work but you will get larger and earlier fruit but less of them.
Sun-Like all plants that produce flowers and fruit tomatoes need at least seven hours of direct sunlight in order to flower then fruit. Without the sun exposure you may have a plant that has great green foliage but has no or little fruit.
So, it is that simple and before you know it you will have tons of beautiful and tasty home grown tomatoes that you can brag about.