By simply avoiding a few common tomato planting mistakes, you can be well on your way to growing and harvesting your best tomato crop ever this year!
Tomatoes are one of the most beloved crops of the home vegetable gardener. And they can also be one of the most frustrating.
Whether its dealing with under-performing plants, pest problems, or diseases like tomato blight and blossom end rot, tomatoes can bewilder and frustrate even the veteran gardener.
With that said, there are some common tomato planting mistakes that can put the home tomato grower behind the 8 ball right from the beginning. And by simply avoiding those pitfalls early on, you can set your garden up for tomato growing success! Let’s take a look at the four below.
4 Tomato Planting Mistakes To Avoid
#1 Planting Tomatoes In The Same Spot Year After Year
Tomatoes are extremely vulnerable to disease, especially soil-borne disease. They also require a fair amount of nutrients from the soil for strong growth. Nutrients can be depleted by growing the same crop year after year in the same space.
One of the best ways to alleviate both issues is to rotate and move your tomato crop every growing season.
Tomato plants should never be planted in the same area for at least 3 years. This keeps issues like tomato blight and black rot at bay. It also allows the soil time to recharge. If you are a container tomato planter, that means completely changing the soil in pots each year as well.
#2 Failing To Put Tomato Stakes / Supports In Before Planting
One of the best things you can do for tomato transplants is to keep the soil around their roots free of foot traffic. Compacted soil compresses the root structure below the ground. And that spells no, or slow growth for the plants above ground.
Drive tomato stakes and supports in before planting. If you use wire cages or fencing, put them in as soon as you plant so you can easily slip them over the plant and not disturb the plant’s root structure below.
This sounds so simple, but it is easy to compact the soil and damage the roots below when installing cages days or weeks after planting. See: The Ultimate Homemade Tomato Support – The Stake A Cage
#3 Failing To Create A Proper Planting Hole
The planting hole is so vital for the long-term success of your tomato plants. Simply digging a small hole and covering up your tomato plant with the left-over dirt is a recipe for disaster.
It is important to create a deep hole to break up the soil for easy growth. We use a post-hole digger to create wide 6″ x 8″ deep holes. Next, you need to provide power to the planting hole. For this, mix in a fair amount of compost and nutrients to help power the plant as it grows.
We use an equal mixture of compost and garden soil along with a few crushed eggs shells, 1-2 tablespoons of coffee grounds, and 2 tablespoons of worm castings. Product Link : Worm Castings
The compost, coffee grounds and worm castings provide the perfect mix of slow-release nutrients to the plants. Meanwhile, the egg shells help add calcium to the soil which helps to prevent blossom-end rot.
Plant the transplants deep into the soil. We plant transplants about 6″ deep into the soil mix. This helps develop deep and powerful roots. Last but not least, one of the biggest mistakes folks make is to not break apart the roots of transplant before planting. Simply pry from the bottom of the soil and gently break apart the roots that have balled up around the transplant. This allows them to grow quickly into the new soil.
#4 Failing To Mulch Plants
Mulching plays such a pivotal part in the success of tomato plants. Mulch helps tomato plants retain moisture and keep weeds from stealing nutrients from the plants.
After planting, apply a 2 to 3″ thick mulch of straw, shredded leaves, compost or grass clippings around plants. We love using compost, as it actually provides additional nutrients that leach into the soil when it rains and as it breaks down.
Happy Gardening! Mary and Jim. To receive our 3 Home, Garden, Recipe and Simple Life articles each week, sign up below for our free email list. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. This article may contain affiliate links.