1 Tomato, 2 Tomato, 3 Tomato, 4! You and I both know the chant is all about potatoes, but this planting is all about the delicious sunshine fruit….the tomato! I did a little research and decided on a method I have never used but seems to be fool-proof. The method I am using is planting tomatoes horizontally. This method is found in the book Joy of Gardening by Dick Raymond. While you can still buy it new, you can often find this 1982 treasure at used bookstores for much less. If you were here for one of my last garden posts, you might remember the gift I received in the mail from a lifelong friend. This book was one of the many treasures in this box. Frank referred to this as “the best book on gardening I have ever owned”. That was enough convincing for me. Let’s plant tomatoes!
First, let me encourage you not to let a little irritation stop you from finding your joy and curiosity! For example, as soon as I start loosening my soil…my garden rake cracks and it is done-completely done! That’s okay. I chose a different tool and kept moving.
My tomato of choice this year is the Celebrity. These tomatoes are semi-determinate because it grows to a certain height (3 to 4 feet) but continues to produce fruit all season until frost. In addition, the ones I am planting are an All American Selections Winner so I am encouraged.
In addition to following these easy steps for planting, it is good to note that plants do not like harsh elements like the hot sun and wind when they are transplanted. Choose to set out your tomatoes in the late afternoon or evening; a cloudy day is ideal. Another tip is to water your plants before taking them out of the flat. This helps the soil stay together and protects the roots from shock.
Easy Steps for Planting Tomatoes Horizontally
- Dig a trench– Create a 6-inch-deep trench, the length of the row you are using for tomatoes.
- Fertilize– Spread a thin layer of fertilizer (5-10-10 or 5-10-15…depending on what is available in your area) along the bottom of the trench. Cover the fertilizer with about 2 to 3 inches of dirt.
- Plant– Pinch off all but the top leaves and plant the tomatoes horizontally. Your plants will be in the shallow trench.
- Cover with dirt– Cover the root ball and exposed stem with 2 or 3 inches of soil.
- Cage your tomatoes– I recommend using a tomato cage to protect and hold the plant as it grows. Once you have put the tomato plants in the ground, set the cage over them immediately and push firmly into the ground.
- Water– Don’t skimp on water! Your tomatoes will need lots of water after transplanting. Soak them after planting and continue to keep the ground moist for a few days.
Planting tomatoes horizontally allows the root system to be closer to the surface. This helps the plant gather plenty of heat and produce extra roots, which will be welcomed during summer dry spells. Stay curious and keep planting!