A beginner-friendly guide to planting tomatoes

Apr 26, 2024, 5:00 PM

Planting tomatoes is like building a house, meaning you have to start with a good foundation. In th...

Planting tomatoes is like building a house, meaning you have to start with a good foundation. In this case, the foundation is compost. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)

(Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – There’s no doubt that tomatoes are extremely popular among gardeners in Utah. Last week KSL Greenhouse Hosts Maria and Taun were lucky to be joined by local tomato expert Andy Stevenson with J&J Nursery and Garden Center. If you have any tomato-related questions, he’s got the answers!

Guide to Planting and Caring for Tomatoes…
35 minutes

Before planting those tomatoes…

Andy compared planting tomatoes to building a house, meaning you have to start with a good foundation. In this case, the foundation is compost. The reason why he suggests starting with a good compost is because tomatoes need a nutrient value.

“If your flower beds or your vegetable beds have sat for a while, the best thing to do is get in there and rejuvenate them,” he said.

Not sure what compost to use? One product Andy recommends is the Oakdell compost.

“Get it tilled back into the garden with some fresh topsoil. If it holds a lot of water, get some soil pep in it. If it doesn’t hold enough, put in some peat moss,” he said.

Taun also pointed out that it helps to plant your tomatoes in different places every year. Planting them in the same spot for more than one out of three years will cause the tomatoes to grow diseases such as Verticillium and Phytophthora.

“Many of our modern tomatoes are Verticillium- and Phytophthora-resistant. But if you grow them in the same spot for five or ten years running, you get such a buildup of those diseases that they will overwhelm that resistance,” he said.

If you have some extra room, try switching up the location.

Now it’s time to plant

Depth is very important when it comes to planting tomatoes. Andy says you want to make sure you plant them deep so it stabilizes them against natural elements like the wind.

“If you look at a tomato, on the sides of it there’s these little fine white hairs. If you plant those, all those little fine hairs will turn into a root system. Now you’ve got a bigger root system to take up nutrients,” he said.

Taun says you can also plant them sideways if you want them to grow taller. Dig up a trench that’s about 3 or 4 inches deep and lay the tomato in there horizontally.

“These will freely root, and there’s also nodes that will form above the root zone on the stem that will form more adventitious roots,” he said.

Remember to gently curve the tip of the tomato so that the stem doesn’t break.

The KSL Greenhouse is on every Saturday from 8 a.m.-11 a.m. You can follow the show on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and on our website.

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A beginner-friendly guide to planting tomatoes