To grow great tomatoes with strong roots, you should plant them deep in the ground so that approximately two-thirds of the plant is buried and only the top of the plant is out of the ground. To help illustrate, that means if you have a 10 inch plant, 6-7 inches should be underground. The trench method of planting a tomato sideways is also a great option to help create robust roots.
Tomatoes are unlike most garden plants because they will grow roots all along their stems. When you plant them deep, it allows extra roots to grow to strengthen the plant so that it can resist disease and produce and support more tomatoes.
Steps for Planting Tomatoes
- Turn and fluff the soil to ensure that it is soft and loose
- Work an organic compost and/or a tomato fertilizer into the soil. We recommend Tomato Secret by Dr. JimZ
- Pinch off the branches along the stem that will be buried (not required, but helpful)
- Dig a deep hole (approximately ⅔ the height of the plant)
- Place the tomato plant in and cover with soil
- Leave 36-48 inches between each plant
- Water thoroughly
- Cage or stake the plant
The Trench Method
Another great way to plant tomatoes is known as the Trench Method. This method takes advantage of the rooting ability of the tomato stem, while also allowing the roots to sit closer to the surface where the warmest soil is located.
Follow the steps outlined above, but instead of digging a deep hole, you will dig a trench that is only approximately 6 inches deep. Lay the tomato plant sideways in the trench, and carefully angle the plant so that the end ⅓ of the plant is sticking out of the ground. Do not bend or break the plant, but you can prop the leafy end with some dirt. Then cover the trench with soil, water it well, and carefully place cages or stakes where they will not hurt the roots. The tomato roots will begin to grow all along the stem, and the top of the plant will straighten out and grow upward toward the light. For a video showing the trench method, check out “How to Grow Monster Tomatoes.”
Producing great tomatoes starts with knowing how to plant them. Before you know it, you will be enjoying fresh, delicious tomatoes from your garden!