How I Plant My Tomatoes

I guess everybody has their own way to plant tomatoes, but as usual the weekend of April 15 is when I plant mine in containers and in the garden. Today I got the containers planted and half of the ones in my 400 square foot veggie garden. In my containers this year, I mixed purchased garden soil with peat moss in some of the containers, and in others I used left over soil from last year that I solarized and also mixed with fresh peat moss. I did that yesterday, then filled and watered the containers well, so they would be ready to plant today. So, here is how I did it.

Once I selected the plant I was ready to dig the hole. Since these are ten gallon containers they allow me to dig a deep hole for the plant

Once I selected the plant, I was ready to dig the hole. Since these are ten gallon containers, they allow me to dig a deep hole for the plant.

I planted the tomato in the pot to a depth of where the cluster of the leaves above the top whirl was just at the soil line. Once planted and the soil was packed around it, I watered it well.

I planted the tomato in the pot to a depth where the cluster of the leaves above the top whirl was just at the soil line. Once planted and the soil was packed around it, I watered it well.

The tomatoes in my garden, even thought it was tilled twice this spring, were planted with a shovel, so I could loosen the soil well. I hope the images below explain how I do it.

I dig a hole about 12 inches deep and make sure that I have loosened the soil about 12 inches around the area that I intend to plant the tomato.

I dig a hole about 12 inches deep and make sure that I have loosened the soil about 12 inches around the area that I intend to plant the tomato.

Once the hole is dug I remove the plant from the pot and fill the hole to where the depth of the planted will be at the whirl of leaves before the top clusters. Plant and pack the soil around the plant

Once the hole is dug, I remove the plant from the pot and fill the hole to where the depth of the plant will be at the whirl of leaves before the top clusters. Plant and pack the soil around the plant.

Then with the extra soil from the hole I make a hill out from the stem around the hole that will hold water. As the tomato grows I will fill this soil in around the roots to get the plant to produce more roots.

Then, with the extra soil from the hole, I make a hill out from the stem around the hole that will hold water. As the tomato grows, I will fill this soil in around the roots to get the plant to produce more roots.

I fill the depressed area around the plant with water and make sure the plant is standing upright

I fill the depressed area around the plant with water and make sure the plant is standing upright.

Now I can relax and just keep the plants watered for a couple of weeks. Then I will fertilize them and cage or stake them depending on how many cages I have, versus the number of tomatoes I planted.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

5 thoughts on “How I Plant My Tomatoes

  1. I’m confused about what kind of stakes or cages to get for my tomatoes. Last year I bought three round cages (for three tomato plants) and the tomatoes out grew the cages. I was told these tomatoes will grow to about 6′-8′ high. what would you suggest?

    • I have both, and most types of tomatoes outgrow the cages. So, I will in some cases add stakes taller than the cages. If not, the stalks will break over the top of the cage, but at least they are not on the ground.

  2. Thanks for the great tomato starts you gave to me. They are in the ground, buried deep (lower leaves removed) watered fertilized and good to go. As always I appreciate and salute your contribution to gardening in Birmingham.

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