Cherry tomatoes on the vine

Every year we plan our gardens with great care, choosing only the varieties that we have come to know and love.  But when it comes to tomatoes, making sure you plant and water them correctly can make all the difference in the world.


a bag of Tomato-tone fertilizer

1.  Choose full sun.  Your tomatoes love it hot!

2.  Dig your hole twice as wide as it is deep, and amend with compost to ensure good drainage.

3.  Add Espoma® Tomato-tone and Garden Lime, to encourage growth and prevent blossom end rot - that ugly black spot on the bottom of your tomatoes. A little prevention now will do the trick.

4.  Plant them deep with a just a little green top showing.  All the branches that are below soil level, will actually turn into roots, and ensure a healthier plant.  By planting tomatoes deep, you'll encourage a much stronger root system, which can reduce your watering requirements down the road.

Diagram for planting a trench tomato

To encourage root growth, an alternative is to actually plant your start but turn the growth sideways, again with just a little green top showing.  The plant will self-correct and grow upwards towards the sun.

plastic tubes of water circling a growing tomato plant

5.  If it's early, keep them warm by adding a Season Starter™ around each plant.  This early season plant protector is also called a "wall of water".  Made of plastic, with chambers that are filled with water, the Season Starter™ acts like a mini greenhouse for your tomatoes.  They can be closed at night to retain heat, and opened during the day to encourage proper air circulation.  

6.  Stake them up!  finish with a tomato cage that will support the weight of your fruit.  It's always harder to try and go back in and add a cage long after you have planted.  You can end up damaging branches in the process.



Jack would remind us where tomatoes come from, and encourage us to replicate that growing environment as much as possible.  So, it's off to Mexico!

1.  Deep root watering preferred.  From May - June, it's important to establish the root system by proving consistent deep root watering.  This can be done by using a soaker hose, ensuring water reaches the base of each plant.  Overhead watering, while therapeutic for the gardener, only leads to potential disease.

2.  If you planted your tomatoes deep, and ensured early deep root watering, you can actually tapper off your watering in late summer.  Sometimes only watering once or twice from July - August, depending on the weather.  The concept is to starve the plant, so it sends all its energy into producing tasty fruit.  If you've ever seen a tomato in Mexico in the summer -- it's certainly not big, green and leafy -- but the fruit tastes wonderful.  So, remember your goal!


Whether it's Dorothy's Delight or Sweet Millions that you crave, Al's Experts are always on hand to walk you through the best planting and watering techniques to ensure your harvest is spectacular.  Because we believe that tomato "bragging rights" are what it's all about.