If you want to have a big tomato harvest this year – it all starts by avoiding some of the most common tomato planting mistakes when first putting them in the ground.
Getting your tomato plants off to a good start is a big key to a healthy tomato crop.
Here is a look at 5 of the biggest mistakes made when planting, and how to avoid them for a great harvest!
The 5 Biggest Tomato Planting Mistakes
#1 Planting In The Same Location
One of the biggest mistakes made in vegetable gardens is to not rotate crops from year to year.
And with tomatoes, a lack of crop rotation can really hurt this year’s crop – and future tomato crops too.
Tomato plants use a tremendous amount of resources from the soil. And to boot, they are susceptible to numerous soil and soil-borne diseases.
Both blossom-end rot and tomato blight, two of the largest killers of tomatoes, are the result of soil issues.
Blossom rot is due to a deficiency of calcium in the soil. While blight spores can take hold in the soil and stick around to destroy crops for multiple years.
By rotating where you plant tomatoes each year, tomatoes can find the nutrients they need, and keep disease at bay.
For best results, never plant tomatoes in the same space in a garden for at least three years.
#2 Planting Too Early
Tomatoes are a warm weather and warm soil crop. Avoid the temptation of planting too early simply because you have had a few warm days.
Planting too early causes a whole host of problems for tender, young tomato plants. From potential frost and freeze damage, to rot and mold.
Allow warmer weather to settle in so that soil temperatures can heat up as well.
It takes a solid week to 10 days of 70 to 80 degree daytime temperatures to warm the soil.
A good rule of thumb is to wait until night time temps stay in the 50 to 55 degree range before planting.
#3 Not Planting Deep Enough
Tomatoes need to be planted deep to develop strong, healthy, and resilient roots.
Forget those shallow 2 to 4″ holes that barely cover the top soil edge of your tomato transplants!
Dig down 8 to 10 inches to create your planting holes, and bury transplants below their first set of leaves.
#4 Not Staking Before Planting
This is one of the most oft-committed of the tomato planting mistakes.
Before you ever plant that first plant, get those tomato supports in place!
Putting stakes and cages in days or weeks after planting is a recipe for disaster.
Not only does the process damage plants and plant roots as you drive in the supports, the foot traffic also compresses the soil area around the roots as you work.
That compression can keep roots from absorbing both water and nutrients from the soil. And, even more, stunt growth.
Waiting too long can also lead to wind damage from plants falling over and breaking off.
#5 Not Mulching Plants
Last but not least, don’t forget to mulch those tomato plants! Leaving soil bare will cause all types of issues.
For one, it dries the soil and roots of the plants out at a rapid rate. And tomato roots need their moisture.
Mulch also regulates the soil temperature, keeping it from soaring or plummeting on cold or hot days.
And worst of all, competing weeds easily move in on bare soil to steal nutrients from the soil.
Mulch tomato plants with a 2 to 4″ thick coating of straw, shredded leaves or compost to help insulate and protect plants as they grow.
Here is to avoiding those tomato planting mistakes – and growing your best crop ever!
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