Planting Tomatoes

Following the "How to Grow Tomatoes Garden Plan" will provide the foundation for planting tomatoes.

This section assumes the time was taken to find the best possible garden location, test and improve the soil condition and create an irrigation system schedule for "Watering Tomatoes".

When the time to plant tomatoes has arrived and the tomato plant seedlings are nearly ready to plant. Prepare the garden for growing tomatoes. Following are growing tips for planting tomatoes.

A prepared garden should be an open area of soil with a border to keep it isolated from intruding lawn, weeds and possibly critters.

Boards, railroad ties, walls and fences are common border materials. The width of the garden should be a consideration in positioning the plants.

When garden plots are wider than three feet and only accesible from one or two places, stepping stones or a path through the area should be considered. Be sure to plan enough access for harvesting.

Determinate (bush) tomato plants commonly are spaced about two feet apart. Indeterminate (vine) tomato plants, depending on how vigorous, need three or more feet of space.

"Companion Plants" should be a major consideration in the garden layout. Companions can be herbs or other vegetables. A demostration of companion planting can be found in the "Victory Garden" project.

Companions such as carrots require only a few inches of space each, while some herbs can occupy up to a two foot area. The shape of the garden plot will help in determining plant positioning.

Take some time to consider the best layout. Trying to squeeze too many plants in a small area can turn into a mess. Too little will leave wasted space in the garden.

The next step is planting tomato seedlings or seeds.

Container growing on a patio or deck is quite a bit simpler. Have the soil filled container ready to go. Don't fill the container to the very top, leave a few inches of space.

If using an in ground irrigation system, have it in place before planting begins.

If the garden plan consists of using a plastic mulch lay it down and space the holes for planting. Mark the places in the garden where the tomato plants are to be planted. A small stick or piece of dowel will work fine. If using a stake or some other support system for planting tomatoes, it's a good idea to place the seedling between the small stick and the stake for added support.

Dig a hole a little larger than the size of the seedling container. Have a hose or a garden watering bucket ready. Remove the seedling from the container. If the plant is root bound, gently break out the edges of the root system without disturbing the soil too much.

Water the empty hole and the soil at the roots of the plant. This will reduce the shock effect on the plant and get it off to a good start. How deep to plant the seedling varies with gardeners. Some say to plant with the first set of branches underground. Planting tomatoes with branches buried may seem strange, but the branches will develope as part of the root system and provide added strength to the plant. Burying a third of the plant works really well.

Place the seedling in the hole and position as needed. Using the extra soil from the hole, fill around the root base pressing gently to be sure the edges are full. Fill to ground level. Press gently around the base leaving a very light indented area that will collect water for the root system.

Depending on the weather, plant either early in the morning or just before sunset. If the weather is cool, plant early, if warm, later is better. Mid-day hot sun can hinder the seedling's ability to adapt to it's new home. After tomato planting is complete, it's time to cover things up.

Mulching is very important for retaining moisture in the soil.

There are a variety of mulching materials. Both the Beefmaster and Victory Garden projects use eucalyptus mulch for planting tomatoes with good results.

Try to stay away from any mulches that have been dyed for appearance. If not using a plastic mulch sheeting, it's better to make sure the plants have taken hold before the first mulching. The first mulch should be a thin layer, just enough to cover the soil completely.

Once the weather starts to heat up and the plants are larger and stronger, the second mulching should be applied. This time mulch should be three to four inches thick. The thicker mulch will insulate the plants roots system and help retain moisture in the warmer temperatures.

Container growing should follow the same mulching process for planting tomatoes. Just feed them and watch them grow. Here's more information about

planting tomatoes in the home garden.

Want to start a garden? Find step by step landscaping, gardening and planting information from seedlings to harvest in our Victory Garden Project Series.

Looking for great tomato Recipes? Check the Everything Tomatoes Recipe List