In the Garden This Month–Planting Tomatoes

     Planting Tomatoes

  1. Space tomato plants 2 to 3 feet apart. Dig a short, shallow furrow or trench about 4 to 6 inches deep for each plant.
  2. Gently remove the plant from its pot and pinch or cut off the leaves from the lower part of the main stem. Tease the roots apart and lay each plant horizontally on the bottom of your trench, carefully bending the main stem to keep remaining leaves above soil level. Roots form along the buried part of the stem establishing a larger root ball in warm soil close to the surface.
  3. Back fill tench and gently firm the soil to eliminate air pockets around the roots. Form a shallow well by building up an earthen ring around the plant; this basin allows water to pool and soak into root zone rather than running off. Then water thoroughly.
  4. Side dress each plant with 1/2 cup organic fertilizer. This will encourage tomatoes to put out an abundant vegetative growth for the first 5 to 6 weeks before getting down the serious business of flowering and setting fruit.
  5. Position tomato cages, stakes, or trellises at planting to avoid damaging roots later. When soil has warmed up to around 70 degrees this will usually be around mid-June and apply a 3 to 4 inch layer of dried grass or straw mulch in a 2 foot circle around each plant.
  6. Maintain even soil moisture to reduce blossom end rot, a spotting on the bottom of the fruit opposite the stem that occurs when plants suffer repeated wet/dry cycles. This is most often a problem in container plantings.
  7. Encourage ripening by removing non-fruiting branches and all flowers that have not set fruit by mid-August. Reduce watering to encourage the plants to develop their seed.