Planting and growing tomatoes isn’t difficult. Still, there are a few simple rules to follow for the best yield and product. Proper planning and planting can also prevent common pests and diseases. Why not give your tomatoes a good start with these helpful planting tips?
If you’re new to gardening, you may not be aware that tomatoes are generally started indoors from seed, then transplanted outdoors. It’s not impossible to start tomatoes from seed outdoors. It can be done. Transplanting is simply the preferred method. It gives the tomatoes an earlier start, as they can’t be planted outdoors in early spring.
Choose a sunny, well drained spot, above the flood zone to plant your grown tomato plants. They will need at least 6 hours of full sun every day.
If you live in a warm climate where frost is not an issue, it might be tempting to start tomatoes outdoors from seed anytime you wish. Keep in mind that deep planting helps tomato plants stay stable and grow thicker stems. Therefore, even if you don’t get 4 seasons, planting seedlings is the better way to go.
What is meant by deep planting? When planting tomatoes, the hole will need to be about twice as deep as the pot the seedling is in. Tomatoes are typically planted with just the top few leaves showing above the ground.
When transplanting tomato seedlings, the soil should be moist but not wet. Wet soil tamps too densely, which inhibits air circulation. One good trick is to soak the tomato plant in the pot before planting, then water thoroughly after planting, rather than wetting the garden soil first. Tomatoes don’t mind clay soil if some sand or vermiculite is mixed in.
Soak the plant, pot and all in a bucket of water. Let it sit while digging that deep hole mentioned above. Place about ¼ cup of organic calcium in the hole. This will ward off blossom end rot, which is caused by calcium deficiency. Then, remove the tomato plant from the container. Loosen the roots slightly at the bottom of the tomato plant before planting.
Note: Even if the plant is in a peat pot, removing the peat pot allows the roots to breathe better and prevents fungus.
Gently place the tomato plant in the hole, burying it up to the top leaves. Fill the hole back up with the soil that was removed to make the hole. Pack the soil firmly but loosely around the tomato plant, adding more soil gradually until it no longer packs. Cover all but the leaves with mulch to retain water in dry climates. If you live in a damp climate, mulch is not needed and could encourage mold.
If you’re planting different varieties of tomatoes, don’t forget to label them. Tomatoes are similar, but not exactly the same when it comes to watering and feeding. Different varieties of tomatoes will need different care after planting.
Tomatoes are heavy vegetables. Tomato plants will need support. The simplest way to provide this is by pushing a tomato cage around each plant immediately after planting. As the tomato grows, you will need to guide it gently so that it stays within the cage while growing.
Water tomatoes thoroughly immediately after planting. Tomatoes will need to be watered at least three times a week (when soil appears dry), fertilized monthly and supplemented with calcium regularly. Avoid planting tomatoes next to head vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, or next to corn or potatoes. These are combative with tomatoes.
To keep pests away, plant marigolds next to your tomato plants. Be sure to give both plenty of room to grow. This inhibits fungal growth as planting them too close together can interfere with drainage and air circulation.