A photo of me holding a tomato plant for post image

How to Make Sure Your Tomato Plants Have the Best Start Ever

You won’t believe this, but young tomato plants love to be transplanted!

Don’t be afraid! Get your trowel and follow me to your garden plot. I’m gonna show you how to give your plants the best start you can possibly give them.

Tomato Plants in Pots

Don’t have a plot? That’s ok too. Growing veggies in pots on a patio is a great choice for loads of tomatoes. Follow these instructions and you’ll be successful too. You will want to purchase a large pot and potting soil first. (Please be sure the bag of soil is specifically for containers.) I’m  going to tell you the amendments I use, so read ahead, then compare with the label on your bag of soil, and decide if your soil will need the additional nutrients.  

Option 1: Grow Your Own Seedlings

A young tomato plant that is ready for the garden is already somewhere between two and three months old. Growing your own babies is very rewarding. Here in Florida, seeds are planted indoors during the early part of January. They need a long head start in order to beat the heat of summer. Please don’t plant seeds later than early February. The plants won’t produce flowers in the sweltering heat of a sub-tropical climate. If you started your tomatoes from seeds they are ready to be transplanted when they are nine to twelve weeks old. To learn how to start tomatoes from seeds and how to grow them to this point, read this post: How to Grow a Tomato from Seeds

Option 2: Buy Your Seedlings

If you purchase plants from a nursery, I recommend buying plants that are no more than nine inches tall. The reason for getting a “smaller” plant is that, if the plant is older and taller, it may already be in the mode to put energy into growing tomatoes. At this point, you want your tomato plant to grow branches, not tomatoes. Branches, properly pruned and trimmed will assure a healthy plant, therefore a healthy harvest. Buy plants that do not have tomatoes already. Flowers are ok-you will pinch those off so your plant can put more energy acclimating to its new home. 

How to Plant a Tomato Plant Step-by-step

  • Prepare your soil at least one week in advance of planting the young plants. To see how to prepare a rich garden soil, read this post:https://seasonsofdevotion.com/prepare-your-soil/
  • Dig a narrow hole in the soil,  deep enough to bury most of the stem so that the first true leaves will be just above the soil line.
  • Mix 1/4 cup of fertilizer into the bottom of the hole. For my own mixture, see the section below.
  • Soak the bottom and walls of the hole with a solution of Garden Friendly Fungicide, following the guide on the bottle (see note below)
  • Gently pinch off bottom leaves of the plant, leaving about half the height of the plant just bare stem. 
  • Put the tomato plant into the hole you prepared-deep enough to bury the part of the stem you just worked on. 
  • Gently fill the hole in around the stem.
  • Soak the surface and the exposed plant with Garden Friendly Fungicide         
  • Follow up with a gentle soaking spray or sprinkler until the soil is moist below the surface.
  • You will need to monitor the moisture level of your new garden bed of tomatoes, keeping the soil moist, not too dry nor too wet.Every soil type is different, so keep a record of how often you need to water to ensure that the plant does not completely dry out nor remain soggy. 
  • At this point, it’s a good idea to put a tomato cage over the top of your little plant. Doing so now will prevent damage to the roots later when the plant is big. Alternately, you can use stakes and string to tie the plant up the stake as it grows.  
  • Continue to spray the plants and soak the soil with the recommended mixture of fungicide at least once every two weeks. Once a week is ok, especially if your soil has a history of having plants that have a disease.

Monitor and Wait

That’s all there is to it! Watch them! The plants will grow slowly at first and then start growing quickly. If your soil has been enriched naturally, the plants will start to grow rapidly after two weeks or so

For just a little

A garden journal is exactly what you need to keep track of what worked and what didn’t. All this is done for you! For just a little, you can get a printable document that’s got you covered from your seed wish list to your harvest records. There are 39 pages of charts, record keeping, garden map grids, and lots of pages for your garden journaling about the garden in general as well as the individual veggies and fruit that you are growing. It’s only $4.99! You can find out more details and order it here and get started right away. (A digital version is also available in the shop.)

More Articles About Tomato Growing

Now that you have planted your tomato plant, head on over to the next post about tomatoes that will teach you how to keep them growing. CLICK HERE to read my comprehensive guide.

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Before you plan a garden, the best way to determine which crops are best for you and your family, download the FREE worksheet that will help you navigate through important questions that need to be asked before you plant. When you join our community, you will get it FREE! CLICK HERE

My personal mixture of garden amendments

Tomatoes need more calcium and magnesium than most vegetable plants. Consider getting a bag of bone meal and worm castings wherever you buy your soil. Then stop into the drug store and get PLAIN Epsom salts (no scents allowed).

My recommendation of additional boost for tomato plants is to mix bone meal, worm castings, and magnesium in equal amounts. Add 1/4 cup of that mixture into the hole that you made for your plant. Stir that into the soil a bit, then place your plant into the hole. Push the rest of the soil around the stem.

Big Tip for Healthy Plants

Note: This product was a total game changer in the health of my plants. It’s like giving them a dose of acidolphilus-that’s the closest way I can describe what it’s doing. It gives the plant an added ability to fight disease. For information about  Garden Friendly Fungicide read: http://www.apsnet.org/meetings/Documents/2012_Meeting_Abstracts/aps12abP125.htm

The brand I use is Southern Ag Garden Friendly fungicide. I purchased mine from a local garden and plant shop: It is about $20 but the bottle will last a long time because it is so concentrated. 

Feel free to contact me in the Contact Debbie box below. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have. I’ld love to hear about your tomato adventures too!

Now go make some tomato plants happy!

May all you weeds be wildflowers,

A photo of the author, Deborah Schreffler

Debbie Schreffler

Veteran Homeschooler, avid gardener, and proud grandma

I believe that you can design a peaceful lifestyle while you homeschool, complete with a garden if you want, and meals that will make the best memories you ever could imagine!

I homeschooled seven kids through high school, starting them all with a lot of planned, hands-on activities. Then, I centered the subjects around the activities. That gave them lots of room for their natural curiosity to be satisfied as they learned about God’s world.

Let me help you teach kids, grow food, and stay calm!

Pinterest image for planting tomatoes

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.Mat 6:33 CSB


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