How to Transplant Tomatoes Outside

Well it is that time, or close to it depending on your climate. Time to plant our tomatoes outside. The last few years we had to wait to plant them until close to the end of April because the soil was so wet, but this year has been a dry warm year- so we took a chance and planted them last Saturday. It was a windy day, but we worked fast to get the walls of water up around them to protect them from the wind. Here is what we did:

  1. We dug a big hole and put in the gallon size jug- like a milk jug. The jug has holes in one side and the bottom. We placed it so that the holes are facing where the tomato will be planted. Then as we filled the hole back in, we mixed in some turkey mulch and humate.
  2. Dig a slightly smaller hole for the tomatoes, but deep enough to bury the tomatoes up to the second real leaf. Before putting them in the hole, pluck off the 2 lowest leaves. Then gently pat the soil down around the plant. You don’t want any air pockets, but you also want the plant to have room to breathe, and let the roots grow into.
  3. Water the plants in.
  4. Fill up the walls of water with a hose, and set them around a 5 gallon round bucket to stabilize them. Then pick up the walls of water and carefully put them around the tomatoes being careful not to smash the leaves or stems of the tomato plant.  Push the base of the wall of water out so that it forms a sort of tee pee.
  5. Then we place the cage around the tomato plant and wall of water. This will help keep the wall of water from getting blown over, and also when you pull the wall of water off,  the plant is already inside and wont need to be threaded into the wall of water.
  6. Keep watered.

The reason we put gallon jugs next to each plant is to make watering easier and fertilizing simple. We use an automatic watering system, but until we get it ready and turned on for the summer, we water by hand. Fill up the jug of water with the hose and your tomato plant is well taken care of. When it needs fertilizer, use a water soluble one, then place it in the jug and fill with water. Makes it simple and easy and gets it right to the tomatoes roots for use.
It is also a good idea to plant the tomato deeply. The whole area placed under the soil line will grow roots. This is not true for every plant, but tomatoes do best when they get transplanted deeply. It gives it a better base and more root growing opportunity. Then when it is warm enough we pull of the walls of water, empty then water, and fold up to store in a 5 gallon bucket in the shed.

For a guide to growing tomatoes visit our website.

Happy Gardening!

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