Tomatoes

(Question)

I am in Toronto and need help planning my “tomato patch”
I have a slightly raised bed in full sun, approx 4′ x 15′
Improved soil and good drainage
What is optimum number of (staked) tomatoes
What spacing should I use
If I mulch, should I the tomatoes be on a raised mound or in a slight depression (to hold water)

 

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.

Soil: To reduce root disease risk, don’t plant on soils that have recently grown tomatoes, potatoes, peppers or eggplant (nightshade family) for at least two years.

Here is an informative Toronto Master Gardeners guide that describes how to improve your soil organically.

Spacing: The space required depends upon the growth pattern of the variety and method of culture.

  • 12 to 24 inches apart for determinate varieties.
  • 14 to 20 inches apart for staked indeterminate varieties.
  • 24 to 36 inches apart for unstaked indeterminate varieties.
  • Some particularly vigorous indeterminate varieties may need 4 feet between plants.

Depth: Unlike most plants, tomatoes do better if planted deeper than they were grown in containers. Set them in the ground so that the soil level is just below the lowest leaves. Roots will form along the buried stem, establishing a stronger root system.

Mulching is recommended, especially for gardeners who wish to maintain their plants for full season harvest. Black plastic or organic materials are suitable for mulching. Mulch plants after the soil has warmed up to maintain soil moisture and suppress weeds. You could mulch with a slight depression.

When is the best time to plant tomatoes outside? With the recent warmer temperatures, everyone is keen to get out and start planting.  It is important to wait until all risk of frost has passed. We recommend on or after Victoria Day weekend as a safe time to plant out your tomato plants. Tomatoes like to be grown in well-drained soil that has warmed up.

Here are a few helpful resources on growing and mulching tomatoes: