My mouth is watering just thinking about all the magnificent, tasty tomatoes that will be picked this summer, even though the ground has just thawed.
After poring through seed catalogs and inspecting last year’s tomato seed collection, it’s time to choose where to plant the tomatoes this spring.
Benefits of Growing Tomatoes in Raised Beds
Tomatoes like heat. Warm soil temperatures are extremely appealing to seedlings and young plants. This is where growing tomatoes in raised beds is particularly useful. The soil in raised beds warms up faster, giving tomatoes a welcome head start.
Where to Grow Tomatoes
Since tomatoes are sun-loving, warm-season plants, they perform best in full light and will flourish in a south-facing garden bed.
How to Prepare a Raised Bed
Build the raised bed on ground that is free of weeds and is without competition from large plants, shrubs, and trees. Cultivate the area where the raised bed will be installed to ensure proper drainage.
For optimal results, the raised bed should be at least 12 inches tall. Fill the raised bed with good garden soil. For tomatoes, the soil should be slightly acidic, light, well-draining, and rich in nutrients, humus, and organic matter.
There are many options when choosing what the sides of the beds can be made of. Wood-sided raised beds are an excellent option. Metal, concrete, brick, and stone are other viable possibilities. The material you choose can help to develop a tidy, easy-to-access garden.
You may also create mounded raised beds with a flat top. This can be a nice low-cost solution that lets you try out a location before building something more permanent. If you try this, you may need to cultivate the sides a couple of times during the growing season to keep it weed free. Any deteriorated portions may also need to be repaired.
Growing Bush Tomatoes in a Raised Bed
Bush or determinate tomato plants are an excellent space-saving choice that thrives in tiny raised beds. They need less trimming than their vining cousins and generally stay a reasonable size. Tomato cages may be used to support most bush tomato plants.
Growing Vine Tomatoes in a Raised Bed
Support is required for indeterminate or vine tomatoes. Having this in mind at the beginning stages of building the raised tomato garden will help determine where the raised bed will go, and what to build the raised bed out of. A trellis or other system of support can be built right into the sides of the raised beds at the beginning, making it strong enough to hold up even the most prolific, vigorous tomato vines.
Grow Tumbling Tomato Varieties In Raised Beds
Growing a tumbling tomato variety in the margins of your raised beds is a great idea. Let your raised beds’ branches to flow over the edges.
When to Plant Tomatoes Outside
Tomatoes can be planted outside after fear of the last frost is past and nighttime temperatures are above 50° F (10° C). They flourish on soil that is warmer than 60° F (15° C). This temperature may be reached sooner in a raised bed than in ground-level soil.
Plants should be hardened off before being planted outdoors. This entails preparing kids for life outside the home. Exposing tomatoes to wind and some fluctuating (non-freezing) temperatures will make them more resilient to face full-time life outside.
Spacing Tomato Plants In Your Raised Bed
The spacing between tomato plants is determined on the kind of tomato plant you are planting.
Bush tomatoes, also known as determinate types, should be planted two feet apart to provide them sufficient room for spreading without interweaving.
Vine tomatoes, also known as indeterminate kinds, may be grown closer together, with 18-24 inches between plants.
Allow at least 3 feet between tomato plant rows. Try planting a tiny beneficial companion plant, such as marigolds, in this location. Marigolds, when planted with tomatoes, have been shown to minimize pests.
Planting in the Raised Bed
Tomatoes have an amazing capacity to develop roots all the way up and down their stems. You can give your tomatoes an incredible competitive advantage by burying one to two thirds of the plants’ stem when you plant it. Therefore, dig a really deep trench.
You may place additional wonderful presents for your young tomato plants in the hole. For added calcium, I’ve heard of placing broken eggshells or crushed Tums in the hole. Phosphorus is important for roots and blooms and particularly beneficial for tomatoes, so a handful of bonemeal fertilizer at the beginning might also be helpful.
Cut the lowest few leaves so the plant may concentrate its energy on the higher sections.
Put the tomato on a mound and surround it with a well. Water will not splash back onto the stem and lower leaves as a result of this. Splashing water on the stem and bottom leaves might make the plant more prone to illness.
Giving Tomatoes a Great Start in Their Raised Garden Bed
While growing tomatoes, the general guideline is to spoil them when they are young. It also helps to hold back when they are mature and fruiting.
Maintain equal moisture levels in early tomato plants. Elevated garden beds tend to dry out quicker than garden beds at ground level. This may be advantageous since tomatoes dislike being soggy, but immature plants do not need the additional stress of drying off.
A regular watering routine and monitoring the moisture levels surrounding young tomato plants can help keep them happy.
Watering tomato plants with a well-balanced natural or organic fertilizer or compost tea once or twice a week can help them grow robust and healthy.
Applying a root and bloom fertilizer every four weeks, such as a bonemeal-based organic fertilizer, will stimulate tomato plants to produce more blossoms, which will result in more fruit.
Bush or determinate tomatoes may only need little trimming. These tomatoes grow a finite number of branches, so often we want to keep all the ones the tomato plant makes.
Depending on the kind of garden and the length of the tomato or frost-free season, vine or indeterminate tomato plants may need continual trimming.
These toms may grow long branches with blooms and fruit all along the stem. Then, at each leaf node or branch, new branches emerge, which can also become long, and produce flowers and fruit.
Sounds great, right?
Letting all of these branches to develop is difficult for the plant, since it may be untidy and difficult to handle. Worse, it may result in smaller fruit and fewer blooms overall. Letting the plant focus on 1 to 5 main stems, and pinching off any new branches, will let the plant focus on producing the best flowers and gorgeous fruit.
Tickle Your Tomatoes!
Yep, you read it correctly. Tickling your tomato flowers will help pollinate your tomatoes so that you’ll have bumper crops.
Unlike some other flowers, bees and insects pollinate tomatoes by buzzing rather than spreading pollen from blossom to flower. The buzzing vibrations bees give tomatoes allows their unique flower to self-pollinate which lets them set fruit.
Spending a few minutes in the morning visiting your tomato plants and tickling the open blossoms will aid in the completion of this critical task.
The Really Fun Part – Harvesting
There are so many different types of tomatoes to pick from, each with its own set of applications. Cherry tomatoes may be plucked and eaten directly from the garden. Then there are sauces, canning, drying, slicing, salads, and roasting.
It is extremely advisable to have many distinct types to cover all scenarios. Having early and main season varieties can keep the harvest going for an extended period with a wide range of flavors, colors, and sizes.
A handful of quick fixes to get things going when our patience is almost exhausted and we are waiting every day for the first particles of red:
Use a red mulch or put red things in the garden. This seems to be a myth, although some people swear by it. It miraculously teases the tomatoes to want to take on some ripe fruit colors.
Start picking early. Picking a few of the nearly-ripe fruit stimulates the plant to grow and ripen more fruit, as well as generate more blooms and fruit.
Let the plants dry out slightly. This tells the plants to speed up ripening and produce more fruit. This, of course, is easy to do in the raised garden bed as they can be more susceptible to drying out on their own.
At the End of the Season
When it comes to tomatoes, it’s game over. The first frost or cold snap might transform those lovely globes into mealy mush. Being above the ground in the raised bed can make them even more at risk of damage from cold.
It is advisable to save all of your hard-earned produce. Let it to ripen within the house. If possible, please store them at room temperature. The refrigerator or cold storage will deprive your tomatoes of their sun-soaked taste.
Notes for Future Disease Resistance
Tomatoes are members of the nightshade plant family. This makes them a little prone to having disease in their plant parts and in the soil where they grew. It is recommended to avoid composting nightshade plants (unless you are a master composter, and you make tons of it).
Tomatoes should also be grown in a rotation. Plant them in different locations every 3 years or so for the optimum disease resistance. But, in the raised bed, replacing part of the soil and adding a lot of fresh organic matter, compost, and other soil amendments may enable you to break this general rule. This may be worthwhile if you have discovered the ideal tomato growing location.
Putting a Raised Garden to Bed
Once all the lovely vines, stems, and root systems are removed, cultivate the soil, making sure it is weed free. This simple process will make you happy the next time you prepare to plant the raised bed.
Taking down the old plants is a bit distressing. That is much preferable than letting them freeze all winter. It is also much easier to clean up the area in the fall than to deal with the slimy frozen plant gunk in the spring.
Be tuned for numerous great techniques to raise wonderful tomatoes as well as fantastic ways to employ massive tomato crops.
Should I plant my tomatoes in the ground?
You’ve got to dig deep when it comes to tomatoes. The majority of veggies should be planted in a hole the size of the pots they come in. Nevertheless, tomatoes are not one of them. Since they are large, heavy feeders, bury them further into the soil, so that portion of the clipped stem — see below — is buried.
What is the most efficient way to grow tomatoes?
More Sun Equals More Fruit
Plants should get seven hours of sunlight every day. Let your plants to develop as well. Put seedlings 30 to 48 inches apart, with rows separated by 48 inches. Leaving space between tomato plants will let light into the lower portions of the mature plants, improve air flow and help prevent disease.
How deep should a raised garden bed be for tomatoes?
Tomatoes, which thrive from deep planting, need 24 to 36 inches (60 to 90 cm) of depth for their roots to flourish. However, if your raised bed is about a foot high, the growth of the plant may simply be slightly stunted.
Where is the best place to grow tomatoes?
Grow tomatoes in a great, sunny location. Tomatoes need at least 6 to 8 hours of sun to bring out their best flavors. Most tomato plants will need to be staked, trellised, or caged to keep them off the ground. Decide on a support plan before you set out your plants, then add that support directly after planting.