Tips & Time for Tomatoes

It is officially all-out planting season now that the danger of frost is over. I recently purchased 6 tomato plants from a Master Gardener sale here in town. That is 3x more than last year! So I am sure there will be a bountiful harvest even with the threat of animals. My garden will also likely contain zucchini and cantaloupe as well this year. I already have cabbage and broccoli growing in a big container garden. It will be an ambitious year!

Tomato for WP

Okay, so you have just bought tomatoes from the store…. how do you get them started? How deep do you put them in the ground?

Soil: If you are working with a new in-ground bed, you may want to mix in compost to bring in nutrients and drainage. Stir the dirt! If you are reusing an older bed or container soil, you can level it up with some potting soil.

Hole: Dig a nice deep hole – one that will fit the rootball of your plant as well as several inches up the stem. Once you have the hole dug, fill with water and let the water completely seep down into the ground before planting. Starting with a well-watered hole will encourage deep, strong root systems. (Trust me, I have seen the fatal results of skipping this watering! Yikes!)

Prepare: Clip or pinch off the lower leaves and branches from the main stem, allowing for several inches of bare main stem to be planted below ground level.

Plant: Remove your tomato plant from its container and slightly loosen up its rootball. Sink your tomato plant down in the hole you have dug, making sure that several inches of the main stem is now down below ground level (all leaves and branches below ground level or near ground level should be removed by now). Fill with dirt and water again! Watering a second time will settle dirt down around the roots and stem as well as encourage new roots to sprout from the stem.

You have now planted your tomato plant! Tomatoes love sunshine, but also sometimes favor a little shade during the hottest part of the day. Too much heat can cause the flowers to fall and stunt fruit growth. Furthermore, too much water or inconsistent amounts of water can cause tomatoes to split – so be mindful of this and make sure to watch the weather forecast to help supplement rainfall during the dry spells so they are not shocked when a storm passes through.

Size control: As tomato plants grow, especially indeterminate varieties, suckers can be pruned to control size and production. Suckers are third party stems originating from the main stem, between an already existing branch and a leaf. Pinch or clip these at their starting point to help control the growth habit of your plants.

I hope this basic how-to is helpful this spring as you plant your tomatoes! Thank you for stopping by and reading! Come again each week for new information regarding planting and my photography.

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