Excerpt from the Popular Farming Series magabook Organic Farm & Garden with permission from its publisher, BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase Organic Farm & Garden here.
Check out these six tips on how to successfully transplant your tomato plants.
1. Before transplanting tomato plants, amend the soil with compost or well-aged manure. Organic farmer Gideon Porth, owner of Atlas Farm in Deerfield, Mass., also recommends mixing in a slow-release, organic fertilizer with low nitrogen content. 2. Space tomato vines at least 2 feet apart, a little closer if they will be staked or grown on a trellis. The extra space will provide room for air to circulate, helping to prevent fungal diseases. 3. Most farmers agree that tomatoes with supports always perform better than those left to sprawl, where insects and slugs have easy access to ground-level fruit. 4. In areas where soil is low in calcium, amend soil with pulverized limestone that contains calcium prior to planting. In addition to sweetening acidic soil, calcium will prevent blossom-end rot. But don’t overdo it; tomatoes like neutral to slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. 5. Another cause of blossom-end rot, a black, soft spot at the bottom of some tomatoes and peppers, is uneven watering. Never let tomato plants dry out between drinks. A drip irrigation system will deliver steady water to the tomato plants’ roots without splashing; this can also help prevent some fungal diseases. 6. Mulching tomato plants with black plastic or a permeable landscape fabric will help warm the soil and speed growth. It will also conserve water and cut down on weeds naturally. Weed-free straw also works as a mulch and helps prevent fungal diseases by keeping soil-borne spores from splashing onto lower tomato plant leaves during heavy rains.