Plant Tomatoes The RIGHT Way

Tomato plant just planted and staked

The red strip shows how deep this tomato should be planted. Be sure to remove the leaves below the strip before planting.

My tomatoes are very tall this year, and in one way that is good. It allows me to dig deep holes to plant them. Yes, that is right, always plant tomatoes up to the first leaf below the cluster of leaves growing at the tip of the plant. Now this is true for tomatoes, but not for plants like peppers, cucumbers, and other garden vegetables you are transplanting into the garden. Another important point in planting tomatoes is the hole and soil mix. First, you want a great root system so dig a BIG hole at least 6 inches deeper than the root depth. The soil you dug out of the hole probably needs to be amended, and I recommend one part soil from the hole, one part cow manure or a good organic matter, and a potting soil mix (not garden soil). All of these products are available at big box or hardware stores. Place the plant in the hole at the proper depth with some of the soil mix under it, and mix the mixture of soils and organic matter together and fill it around the tomato plant to the top of the hole. Pack the mixed soil with your foot or using your hand to press around the plant. Water well, and then place a stick next to the plant to use to tie the plants on as they grow. After a week and the plants start growing, fertilize with a good tomato fertilizer, either granular or liquid. This same procedure is true for container growing, but make sure the pot has good drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.

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.

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