Transplanting Tomatoes

Nothing beats the taste of a homegrown tomato, and that’s probably why this vegetable (fruit) is one of the most popular plants in home gardens. Tomato plants grow best when they are started indoors and transplanted once they are several weeks old.



Nothing beats the taste of a homegrown tomato, and that’s probably why this vegetable (fruit) is one of the most popular plants in home gardens. Tomato plants grow best when they are started indoors and transplanted once they are several weeks old.

Whether you start tomatoes from seed or buy a young plant from a nursery, tomatoes should not be transplanted until a few weeks after the last average frost date. Tomatoes are incredible sensitive to cold temperatures; even cold soil can affect their nutrient intake and development. Prepare your garden soil with compost to increase soil fertility and moisture retention, and ensure that the soil is slightly acidic—pH levels between 6.2 to 6.8 are ideal.

Although it is tempting to transplant just deep enough to cover the root ball, it is best to bury most of the plant. Plant deep (up to the first set of leaves) and the stem underground will develop root hairs. This stronger root system will allow the plant to support more fruit weight, so this practice can increase yields. A trench method is an alternative to digging a deep hole, and allows strong roots to develop horizontally instead of vertically. Dig a 6-inch deep trench and lay the plant in i, burying all but the top leaves.  Gently bend the top of the plant upward so the top leaves are above the soil line.

Once transplanted, fertilize tomato plants with 2 cups of diluted fish emulsion and water thoroughly. Add a ring of mulch around the base of the plant to discourage weeds and help retain moisture, just be careful not to let the mulch touch the stem. This can sometimes result in stem rot problems.

Place plants 3 to 4 feet apart so there is plenty of room for air circulation. If using a cage place it over the tomato plant immediately after transplanting. If you plan to stake, iInsert a stake near the plant, but don’t tie it yet. Wait until the first blossom branches appear before tying.

Once your tomatoes are planted, your work isn’t necessarily done. Be vigilant in looking for pests or disease. You may also choose to prune if your tomato plant is an indeterminate variety. For fresh tomatoes all season, stagger transplants every three weeks.

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