Growing Tomatoes Vertically | Dishin & Dishes

Growing Tomatoes Vertically | Dishin & Dishes


Have you ever heard of growing tomatoes vertically? Growing vertically means that instead of planting things regularly in rows and allow them to grow over cages or stakes, you grow them up a structure like a trellis or twine or anything that you can tie them up to so they take up less space in your garden area, reduces disease because they get more air, and are easier to find pests on!

There is another benefit of growing tomatoes vertically. It allows you to prune your tomatoes easily. We did this last year and were very pleased with our increased production in tomatoes.

Did you ever notice when you buy or look at a tomato plant at a store that they are labeled under the tomato name (like Big Beef Or Early Girl) with some odd words?

Sometimes you will see the words “determinate” or “indeterminate” under the name. These are the two types of tomatoes.

#1 – Determinate tomatoes are sometimes called “bush tomatoes”. They grow to a fixed mature size and usually all the tomatoes appear and ripen around the same time in the span of about two weeks.  At that point, the plant is basically done producing for the season. Determinate tomatoes are great tomatoes for making sauces and canning because you get so many at once.

#2 – Indeterminate tomatoes can be thought of as a vine. The plants flower first  lower down on the plant and those will be the first tomatoes. Then they will flower a little higher up and another set will appear. This will continue to repeat itself as the plant continues to grow at the top like a vine. It will continue to do so until the first freeze and then it too will be done producing. You should be very careful to never trim the top of a Indeterminate tomato or break it as the plant will be done and you won’t get full production from it.

So- back to growing tomatoes vertically!

Most people grow indeterminate tomatoes vertically as they keep producing throughout the season and can grow up to ten feet tall.

Another bonus of growing tomatoes vertically? You can plant a tomato plant in one square foot.

Yes I really just said “one square foot”.

The way we grow our tomatoes vertically is we keep the tomato limited to only one main stem or the original stem that goes into the ground. Any branch that attaches directly to the one main stem gets to stay. But anything that grows off of those branches or in the “V” between branches (called a sucker”), gets pruned off! Also after the first set of flowers turns into tomatoes we cut off all leaves below that spot. I’ll explain more in detail later on in the post!

This process allows the energy of the plant to go to the production of the tomatoes instead of to a zillion leaves.

It makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

We have 48 tomatoes in two 4 X 8 foot beds. Compared to only growing 4 bushy tomatoes in that space below is very exciting to us!

A few years back, Mr. Wonderful added the wooden structure that has served as holding our shade fabric over the garden (the red structure seen in the photo above).  It is anchored to the corners of our beds.  In Oklahoma, it gets so hot in the summer, we use 50/50 shade fabric which allows 50% of the sun through it’s coarse weave to our garden, preventing sun-scorch to our precious plants. You can also see our shade fabric above the garden.

Mr. Wonderful drilled holes through the board frames at the top above two of the beds. He then slid some pipe we had laying around through them to for the top frame for our vertical gardening. You could also use boards with large eye hooks on the bottom of them (the eye hooks you see in this picture are to attach our shade fabric to, not our tomatoes -we use the silver poles).

Down at the bottom of the bed on the inside frame of the wood, he added more eye hooks directly under the poles. Then he strung straight lines of baling twine (we purchased at the Tractor Supply) to make parallel lines of twine under the poles from one eye hook to the other side to another eye hook.

The point is to tie a separate line now vertically (or running up and down) around the poles and then down to the twine line to form a line up for the tomatoes to grow up and be tied to.

This is the kind we bought. It came in a two-pack (About $30) and will probably will be enough that we’ll never have to buy it again in our lifetime!

Tomatoes can grow vertically in about one square foot of space because basically, you’re going to keep them trimmed up like vines.

So we place the twine about every square foot and planted a tomato plant behind it.  Then we tied the tomato to the twine down near the base and again up a foot or so.

Usually we use this flexible type garden tape (but being the unthinking gardener, I hadn’t purchased any yet) but I highly recommend it. It allows the plant to grow and the tape will expand as it does so. I get it at my local nursery.

Now it’s just a matter of letting your tomatoes grow and keeping them tied to the string and …

One very important other thing…..

Trim the suckers.

The thought process of growing tomatoes vertically is to only have one or at the most, two main stems growing from the plant and to trim off the suckers.  This provides most of the energy to growing fruit. It also allows more air into the plant allowing less chance of disease or rot and making it easier to spot pests! It also allows the tomatoes to ripen quicker because they get more energy. This worked very well for us last year!.

This diagram of a tomato plant shows you the main stem. Basically any branch that comes off that stem is OK to leave on the plant with one exception. Once the plant flowers for the first time you can trim off all leaves connected to the stem UNDER the cluster of flowers. The plant flowers as it grow up so these leaves will never be needed.  You don’t need them zapping your plant energy. Cut them off (using sharp clean snippers).

Suckers grow in the “axil” of the V where a branch meets the main stem of the tomato plant (see above). If these are tiny, you can usually pinch them off with your fingernails quite easily. You want to get all these babies OFF or they will grow into more and more branches and form new stems and the result will be a big tangled bush of a mess. Some folks in heated areas like our prefer to just take off the leaflets at the end of each sucker, leaving a bit of it to shade the tomatoes from sunscald, leaving only two leaflets in place.

If you do this correctly your tomato vines will look just like that…a vine growing up to 6-10 feet tall, tied up every foot or so with clusters of tomatoes hanging and growing into bright delicious jewels of summer!.

I will keep you updated on what they look like as they progress! Happy planting!



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Homemade Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons – recipe video | Ashlee Marie

homemade tomato basil soup recipe


Nothing is better during any season than homemade tomato soup; it’s fast, easy, creamy, and delicious warm or cold. Packed with flavor, this how-to tomato basil soup recipe is made even better with the addition of grilled cheese croutons. 

How I created this homemade Tomato Soup recipe with Grilled Cheese Croutons.

Kay I am obsessed with Tomato soup and grilled cheese – it was a favorite meal growing up.  My dad made us grilled cheese and tomato soup ever week – but of course his version was with a canned soup.  As I’ve gotten older I’ve of course elevated the meal a bit with this thick and creamy tomato soup!

Every time I go to a restaurant with soup as an option I always check for tomato basil soup – if they have it I always try it.  I’d say 90% of the time I’m disappointed.  One of the exceptions was this amazing tomato soup at this place in Dallas – I used to go all the time and they even sold jars in the grocery store.  But when I left Texas I left my favorite soup.

So the answer was I needed to create a soup that was similar I could easily make at home.  And that’s when this soup was born!  But while I loved it my kids still seemed to prefer the thin canned tomato soup so I put this recipe aside and kinda forgot about it!

Then last year when we were at Disneyland we spend the week trying all the food (and going on all the rides too) and at the end of the week I asked my kids what their favorite Disney treat had been.  4 of the kids picked some kind of dessert/treat of course, but my 2nd child said “the tomato soup”… Then he asked if we could make tomato soup from scratch instead of from the can… 

Boy after my own heart! I told him I had a from scratch tomato soup I just hadn’t made it in like 10 years! The very first meal we made when we came home from our trip was this soup! I will admit he was a little dissapointed that I still used canned tomatoes instead of straight from the vine but he got over it when he tasted it! In fact it’s become the new meal he makes every week (love having older kids to help). 

This is a quick and easy last min dinner because I always have the ingredients around, so great for those busy week night meals.  And easy enough that a 16 yo can make it too! You can serve it with these easy grilled cheese croutons or of course with full grilled cheese sandwiches.

Just take me to the Tomato Soup Recipe already!

If you’d rather skip my tips and tricks for tomato basil soup, along with links to other homemade recipes for soup and get straight to this delicious creamy tomato soup – simply scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find the printable recipe card.

homemade tomato soup

How long does tomato soup last in the fridge?

Officially the answer is 3-4 days.  But Personally since it doesn’t contain any meat I reheat and enjoy this soup for a full week.  I’m not sure why all soups have a 3-4 day rule – I use that when I chicken or beef in the soup but not for meatless dishes. 

How to make tomato soup creamy?

I tried a few different ingredients when playing around with soup recipes and both cream and milk actually didn’t do much IMO, I felt they actually “watered” this soup down a bit so when my sister suggested cream cheese I was wary but it was the perfect addition IMO! But feel free to play around and find that ingredient you want, some people think this soup is too thick!

Can this tomato soup be frozen?

So because of the cream cheese in the soup it will be trickier to freeze, mostly because freezing anything with dairy causes some issues when reheating.  If you want to make a large batch of this soup and reheat smaller portions of later I’d divide the soup into the size you want for reheating BEFORE adding that cream cheese at the end.- then when you reheat the soup blend in the cream cheese fresh.  


grilled cheese croutons

To make this easy Tomato Basil Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons you’ll need

  • pot with lid
  • wooden spatula
  • hand blender
  • pan for the grilled cheese croutons
  • serrated knife

Homemade Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons Recipe and Video Tutorial

If you love this tomato soup as much as I do, I’d love a 5 star review. Be sure to share on social media and tag me if you make it @ashleemariecakes! If you want to stay updated on new recipes sign up for my newsletter and join my Facebook Group!

tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons

If you love this thick and creamy tomato soup you’ll love these other creamy soups recipes too!

Creamy Mushroom Soup | Coconut Pumpkin Soup | Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup


If you are after more great sides for this tomato basil soup, try these!

Mediterranean Grilled cheese | Monte Cristo Sandwiches | Homemade Cornbread

To watch me make this homemade tomato basil soup with grilled cheese croutons play the video in the recipe card (if you’re on desktop, it should be auto playing for you). You can find all my cooking show style recipe videos on YouTube, or my short recipe videos on Facebook Watch, or my Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.

Creamy Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Nothing is better during any season than homemade tomato soup; it’s fast, easy, creamy, and delicious warm or cold. Packed with flavor, this how-to tomato basil soup recipe is made even better with the addition of grilled cheese croutons. 

Course: dinner, Lunch, Soup

Cuisine: america, American

Keyword: creamy tomato soup, grilled cheese croutons, homemade tomato soup, tomato basil soup, tomato soup

Servings: 14 servings

Calories: 146 kcal

Author: Ashlee Marie


Tomato Soup

  • 1 Tbsp reserved oil from sun-dried tomatoes or olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2/3 C sliced sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
  • 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 14 oz chicken broth
  • 4 oz reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Grilled Cheese Croutons

  • 4 slices bread
  • 4 Tbsp Butter softened
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese


Tomato Soup

  1. Place oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

  2. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring often.

  3. Add sun-dried tomatoes, canned tomatoes, chicken broth, sugar, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes.

  4. Bring soup to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer.

  5. Cover pan and simmer for 30 minutes.

  6. Use a hand blender and blend smooth

  7. Add cream cheese and stir until melted

  8. Add additional salt and pepper to taste and serve

Grilled Cheese Croutons

  1. place the cheese between the bread and butter the outsides

  2. Put the bread butter-side down on pre-heated pan

  3. Grill until golden, flip and grill the other side

  4. let cool slightly then cut into cubes with a serrated knife

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