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Transplanting Tomato Plants

Check out these six tips on how to successfully transplant your tomato plants.

January 20, 2012

Excerpt from the Popular Farming Series magabook Organic Farm & Garden with permission from its publisher, BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase Organic Farm & Garden here.

 

Check out these six tips on how to successfully transplant your tomato plants.

1. Before transplanting tomato plants, amend the soil with compost or well-aged manure. Organic farmer Gideon Porth, owner of Atlas Farm in Deerfield, Mass., also recommends mixing in a slow-release, organic fertilizer with low nitrogen content.

2. Space tomato vines at least 2 feet apart, a little closer if they will be staked or grown on a trellis. The extra space will provide room for air to circulate, helping to prevent fungal diseases.

3. Most farmers agree that tomatoes with supports always perform better than those left to sprawl, where insects and slugs have easy access to ground-level fruit.

4. In areas where soil is low in calcium, amend soil with pulverized limestone that contains calcium prior to planting. In addition to sweetening acidic soil, calcium will prevent blossom-end rot. But don’t overdo it; tomatoes like neutral to slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

5. Another cause of blossom-end rot, a black, soft spot at the bottom of some tomatoes and peppers, is uneven watering. Never let tomato plants dry out between drinks. A drip irrigation system will deliver steady water to the tomato plants’ roots without splashing; this can also help prevent some fungal diseases.

6. Mulching tomato plants with black plastic or a permeable landscape fabric will help warm the soil and speed growth. It will also conserve water and cut down on weeds naturally. Weed-free straw also works as a mulch and helps prevent fungal diseases by keeping soil-borne spores from splashing onto lower tomato plant leaves during heavy rains.

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Granted there are probably over a dozen tips one can share about planting/transplating tomatoes. But, one essential is planting depth. I learned from old man Crockett (founder of the old PBS series "Crockett's Victory Garden") that when transplanting tomatoes, strip the stem of all the leaves all the way to the first set of true leaves. Lay the stem in a trench no deeper than three inches. Slightly bend the top of the plant so that only the top with the leaves is above the soil. After two to three weeks it's just as big as the ones that were not stripped off it's leaves and planted in the same depth as it came out of a six pack. But, from then on it continued to be a much healthier plant. The point is, the stem that was burried developed roots and greatly added/aided to the development of the plant. Plus, since it's not too deep the roots stays warmer and it easily gets water. However, one caveat is, it has to be mulched since at that depth the soil also dries out quicker.
Dante, Hyde Park, MA
Posted: 5/21/2013 4:32:44 PM
Great tips.
Galadriel, Lothlorien, ME
Posted: 3/20/2013 11:54:41 PM

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