How to Plant Tomatoes for the Best Results
Have you always wondered why some people can grow the most beautiful tomato plants with loads of fruit, but yours do not make the grade? Although there are a LOT of factors that play into growing superb tomatoes, one sure bet is developing a great root system when you first transplant them into the ground. So how do you do that?
- One method is to plant the tomato as deep as possible, so that the root system will develop all over the stem that’s planted underground.
- Another method is to plant them in a trench, where the plant actually lays down in a valley in the soil, but the top of the plant protrudes on top of the soil.
See pictures below. Both of these methods will allow the plant to grow a root system over the entire stem area that is underground. This extended root system will help the plant be much stronger and healthier, than with a small root system planted near the surface.
Other Factors to Consider when Growing Tomatoes
Another critical factor is soil health. To grow lots of tomatoes, it is important to have enough nutrients in the soil, so that the plant will get nourished properly. Yellowing leaves will occur if the soil is not nutrient rich. Too many green leaves and not enough fruit will occur if you over fertilize the soil….so it’s a delicate balance. Test your soil by following the UT Ag Extension publication which can be found on this link: https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/PB1061.pdf After your results are in, Ag Extension can help you figure out the easiest way to amend your soil for tomatoes or any other veggies in your garden.
Tomatoes need a lot of air space around them, so they don’t develop fungus, so plant them with a 24″ box of air space around them. We use wooden stakes instead of wire cages to support the plants, because we feel the wood does a better job of keeping the plant erect and growing the most fruit. We do sanitize the stakes each year, in case any left over fungus from the previous year might be present.
It is also good to plant flowers (like buckwheat and cosmos) that attract beneficial insects to eliminate the most common insect problem…evil Aphids. Aphids suck the juices out of the stem of tomatoes and pass diseases to the plant. Green Lacewings are a beneficial insect that will lay eggs with hatch into larvae that eats the evil Aphids. Tiny parasitic wasps will lay eggs inside the other insect monster, tomato horn worms, and the larvae hatch to eat the worm from the inside out. Because we grow SO MANY tomato plants for our U-Pick Summer Garden, we actually buy Green Lacewing Eggs from Arbico Organics http://arbico-organics.com. Lady Beetles are also great Aphid eaters, but they like to hibernate and overwinter in our home…so I don’t order those. By attracting beneficial insects, you don’t need pesticides!
We hope these tips have been helpful and feel free to e-mail us with any further questions on Tomatoes or Gardening: