How to Plant Tomatoes

Tomato plants take up a lot of nitrogen to produce those juicy red fruits, so the soil they grow in each year is depleted of nitrogen. The best policy is to rotate them to another area of the garden every year for four years.

Restoring Nitrogen

When the tomatoes are done for the season, plant a winter cover crop such as legumes, clover or winter peas. The following spring you simply cut them down and turn back into the soil.  As they decompose they will raise total nitrogen in the soil and make the nitrogen available for other plants.

Amending the Soil

It’s important that the soil in your tomato beds is loose and full of nutrients. It should fall apart when you try to make a ball of dirt. If it sticks together, you have clay soil, and will need to add amendments to loosen it up and add compost for nutrition.

Planting the Tomatoes

Tomato plants develop roots along the entire stem that is under ground, so to have a healthy root system, they need to be planted deep.  Plentiful roots make plenty of sweet juicy tomatoes. Dig a hole about 8 to 10 inches deep. If you use a post hole digger, you will not compact the soil around the hole and one scoop gets the job done quickly. Dig holes a minimum of two feet apart. Tomatoes need room to spread out.

Add some compost into the hole along with a few tablespoons of dried crushed eggshells, which add calcium, and some used coffee grounds. Your plants will love it. Remove as many lower leaves as you can and plant the tomato as deep as possible. Then put some eggshells and coffee grounds around the base of the plant and water in well.

What if the Plants are Short or too Tall?

Most tomato plants you find in the garden center will be well developed and ready to plant, but if you find a smaller plant, simply bury as much of the stem as you can without removing all the leaves. If your plant is tall and leggy, you can dig a trench about four inches deep and lay the plant in the trench sideways, allowing just the top leaves to appear above the ground.

Enjoy the best tomatoes ever!!!