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tomatoes growing

How-To
Plant Tomatoes in the Garden

How to Plant Tomatoes in the Garden

Tomatoes are a warm-season garden favorite that should be planted in spring or even into summer; there are even varieties that can be planted in early fall. Planting tomatoes is easy and will reward you with a bountiful harvest. Plant a variety of tomatoes, each with their own flavor profile, to use in homemade meals now or can for the future.

Nearly all plants should be planted at the depth of their nursery container, However, tomatoes are unique and are one of the few plants that can generate roots from their stem. Plant your tomatoes deep so they can have a robust root system for a healthy, strong plant that will produce more fruit. Remove the bottom set of leaves and plant your tomato deep enough so the soil comes just above where the leaves were removed. Tomato plants grow quite large, 4 to 8 feet tall, so most tomatoes should be planted about 3 feet apart.

Planting Tomatoes in the Garden

  • Choose an area of the garden that receives full sun; at least 6 to 8 hours. The more sun, the better. South facing locations are ideal. Each tomato plant will need about a 2 to 3 square feet of garden space.
tomatoes in sunlight

  • Dig a hole at least twice the size of the tomato nursery pot. Go deep. The bigger the root mass, the bigger the plant above! We recommend at least 12-16" deep and 10-12" wide. Amend the native soil at a 50/50 ratio with Dr. Earth Home Grown Vegetable Planting Mix. This will give tomatoes a great foundation so roots can easily establish and will allow for proper drainage.
hands moving dirt

  • Add a handful of organic Dr. Earth Root Zone to the bottom of the hole before backfilling with your 50/50 mix. Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so working another handful of Dr. Earth Root Zone as you backfill the hole will help your tomatoes take off with even more vigor. One additional amendment to use is a handful of Granulated Gypsum or Bone Meal when planting. Tomatoes need a good amount of Calcium during fruit production to make large cascades of delicious fruit and both Gypsum and Bone Meal are good, slow-release sources for Calcium. This also prevents blossom drop.
root zone fertilizer

  • Remove the tomato plant from the nursery pot, and place in the hole. Remember, tomatoes can be planted deep. Remove the first cluster of foliage and plant the tomato so the soil line is just above the foliage that was removed. Once the tomato is in the hole, fill in with the amended soil gently tapping the soil to remove air pockets.
patting tomatoes in soil

  • Water thoroughly.
watering tomato plant

  • Place a tomato cage over the tomato plant. While the cage may look large now; the tomato will quickly grow into it.
tomato cage

Caring for Tomato Plants

watering tomato seedling

Water is Key

Keep your tomatoes consistently watered. In the heat of summer, when the root masses are large and established, they may need water daily. Be sure to water in the morning between 5am-9am. Water at the base of the plant. Do not top water the leaves.

dr. earth tomato, vegetable, & herb fertilizer

Feed Your Tomatoes

Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so frequent fertilization will ensure a strong plant that produces tons of sweet fruit. Feed tomato plants with an organic fertilizer like Dr. Earth Home Grown Tomato, Vegetable & Herb fertilizer. This is a people and pet-safe, granular organic fertilizer that should be applied every 3-4 weeks for healthy, vigorous tomato plants. After 6 weeks, add another handful of Gypsum or Bone meal. When feeding, scatter the fertilizer over the top of the soil and work it in with your fingers, then give it a good deep watering.

tomatoes in box

Harvest Time

Allow tomatoes to fully color and ripen on the vine. To pick, use a small scissors or hand pruners to cut them and cut at the stem.