Tomatoes are by far the most widely grown item in the home vegetable garden and with good reason – they taste better if allowed to ripen on the vine and those from the store are picked mostly green or they could not be shipped in baskets without turning into juice.
One of the unique features of tomato plants is that all parts of the stem that touch the ground will put out roots rather than rotting like many plants, so the stem can be buried when planting. I plant mine pretty deep so they will have access to more water, which they require a lot of when fruiting.
This is certainly not a requirement and totally impractical for large numbers of plants, but I dig my planting holes with post hole diggers to plant them deep for water and for more root development. Notice I have a piece of drip tape (irrigation) laid out to ensure the plants get the correct spacing - right at the water emitter.
Next, I pinch off all but the top 2 or 3 sets of leaves and tease the roots (rough up those around the outside), if they are root bound – this applies to all planting and encourages the roots to grow outward rather than continuing in a circle around the stem. I once had a tree that achieved 6” diameter but kept falling over because I failed to do this – had to cut it down.
Later I’ll cover the various aspects of growing maters (and other plants) – staking/caging, fertilizing, pruning, disease and pest control, etc. Bear in mind that much of what I cover is generic and applies to all plants – teasing the roots prior to planting for example. One final comment - it's always best to transplant of an evening or on a cloudy day so the plants don't have to immediately stand up to the sun's full heat - remember, we've just disturbed the roots.
When you go to buy plants, you will often find large plants that already have tomatoes on them – buy them if you must but… Bev kept after me to plant one and I resisted, but I finally agreed, just to show her the outcome. So I planted one – gallon pot size - and right beside it I planted my normal size plant of the same variety. The large plant ripened the fruit it had on it, although they didn’t get much larger, it grew very little, and in a few weeks the other one had shot by it - it produced very few tomatoes. The larger the plant the less it likes being transplanted. If you can’t resist the urge plant one, remove all of the fruit and blooms for a couple of weeks so the plant will devote its energy to root development, which will be critical for the remainder of the season, or you will likely get what I got.
Thanks to Bev and neighbor Pat doing the actual planting while I laid things out, dug the holes, and watered, we got our 38 maters and 18 peppers in the ground in a couple of hours on Tuesday- ahead of the in-coming rain.
All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.
One year ago: Fields Of yellow