Quick Answer: A To Z Guide On Growing Tomatoes In Raised Beds
The tomatoes grow well in well-drained, acidic soil in a raised bed. The different steps in growing tomato plants in raised beds are preparing the site, assembling the garden bed, planting the tomatoes, caring for the plants, and harvesting. It is recommended to follow crop rotation, amend the soil, stake and prune the tomatoes, control pests, and water regularly to have a successful tomato yield.
Are you looking to grow tomatoes in a raised bed? If yes, here is the ultimate guide on growing tomatoes in a raised bed.
I have used learnings from my years of experience of growing tomatoes to develop this guide.
Keep reading to know more information!
- Quick Answer: A To Z Guide On Growing Tomatoes In Raised Beds
- Benefits Of Growing Tomatoes In Raised Bed
- How to Select Growing Area For Raised Bed
- How to Assemble the Raised Garden Bed
- How to Plant Tomatoes In The Raised Garden
- How Care For Tomatoes in Raised Beds
- How to Pollinate Your Tomatoes
- How to Harvest Tomatoes?
- General Tips And Considerations for Growing Tomatoes in Raised Beds
Benefits Of Growing Tomatoes In Raised Bed
The tomato plants are popularly grown in a raised garden bed due to convenience. It is easy to drain the water, control weeds, and concentrate the nutrients for the tomato plants in the raised bed.
Raised bed gardening is a form of gardening within enclosed containment units. The soil is usually raised above the ground level.
The various benefits of growing tomatoes in raised garden beds are as follows
- The water may drain easily.
- It is very convenient. You need not bend over very much to work with the soil.
- It helps in concentrating the nutrients and manure to the garden bed.
- It is easy to maintain and control weeds.
- It may be difficult for creepy creatures to enter the raised bed and affect them.
- You may easily replace the soil if there is a fungus or bacterial disease attack.
How to Select Growing Area For Raised Bed
It is important to choose a spot that receives eight hours of sunlight and is free of debris. The growing area should have easy access to a water source.
The first thing you have to consider is choosing an appropriate spot for growing tomatoes in a raised bed.
It is important to choose a leveled site that is free of debris. You may use a tiller to loosen the soil. I use a spading fork to break open the hardened soil.
Your spot should receive at least eight hours of direct sunlight and has close access to the water source.
It shouldn’t be disturbed by pets.
How to Assemble the Raised Garden Bed
Outline the raised garden bed, and assemble the edging material. Build a garden bed with a width not more than four feet for easy access to the center of the bed.
Create an outline using the edging material. The edging material may be made of umber, cinderblocks, or stone.
You may choose the length and width of the raised garden bed depending on the available space and your preference. It is preferable to have a width of not more than 4 feet so that you may reach the center of the bed from both sides.
Install the edging and make sure that the raised bed will not move from its place.
Some gardeners prefer lining the bed to make it durable and prevent the toxic chemicals from leaching into the soil. You may use chicken wire or hardware cloth as a lining material.
You may improve the topsoil using an organic material or slow-release fertilizer. Use a bed that is at least 12’’ deep to allow tomato roots to grow well.
I prefer to use a bed of at least 12’’ deep. It gives some room for the tomato roots to grow and allows proper drainage.
The tomatoes grow well in slightly acidic and well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Avoid using compacted soil as it may reduce root development.
An advantage of raised garden bed is that you may optimize the soil. The garden soil may be improved by adding rotted manure, peat moss, or other organic compost.
I mix in two to three-inch layers of compost over one-third of the topsoil as the tomatoes are heavy feeders.
You may also use slow-release fertilizer so that it is available throughout the growing season. Lastly, make the soil smooth.
How to Plant Tomatoes In The Raised Garden
You may choose indeterminate or determinate varieties depending on your preference. Harden the tomato plants and transplant them to the raised garden. Space the plants at least 18-24 inches apart.
Here are guides of planting tomatoes –
Beware of the Frost
You may plant the tomato plants after the danger of the frost has passed and the nighttime temperature is above 50oC.
Cover the transplanted tomato seedlings immediately after a frost event.
Choose Right Varieties
Choose tomato varieties depending on the fruit characteristics and resistance to diseases.
Plants may be started from seeds indoors and transplanted to the raised bed after it has grown to at least 4’’ in height.
I prefer to plant the tomatoes deeply so that the roots may form well. Space them at least 18-24 inches apart.
Determinate varieties are usually smaller and need 2 to 2 1/2 feet distance between them. The indeterminate variety that sprawl requires a three to four-foot spacing.
Iowa State University suggests a space of four feet between rows.
Some gardeners leave a sunken area around each tomato plant so that it may hold water.
Ensure Optimal Watering
Tomato plants require consistent watering for good growth. It requires an inch of water per week, and you may use an irrigation system for convenience and consistency.
Tomatoes require at least an inch of water per week for ideal growth. I recommend keeping the soil moist and not soggy.
You may water the soil once or twice per week, depending on the weather conditions. It should penetrate to a depth of about 12 to 18 inches.
I water the plants at the base of each tomato plant to avoid splashing. Few use an irrigation system to deliver the water to the base of the plants.
Take care not to overwater. The excess watering of the tomato plants may cause cracking.
I came across this video on how to water tomato plants for a huge harvest:
How Care For Tomatoes in Raised Beds
Place a two to three-inch layer of mulch around tomato plants. Use a stake or cage to help tomato plants grow upright. Pinch the suckers off the tomato plants for larger fruits.
I recommend mulching the tomato plants for good yields. You may place a two to three-inch layer of organic material, including compost, leaves, or hay, around the plants.
It helps to prevent weed growth and loss of water from the soil.
When the plant starts growing, you may tie the plants loosely to the stake every 12 inches using a twine.
As the plants start growing, you may need to supplement the plants with adequate nutrients.
But, take care not to add excess nitrogen in the beginning as it may lead to heavy vegetative growth and a poor fruit set.
Also, remove the suckers that come out of the tomato plants as soon as possible. The plants may focus on providing nutrients to the fruits.
Check out this video on how to stake and prune tomato plants in a raised bed:
How to Pollinate Your Tomatoes
Tomatoes are self-pollinating. You may hand-pollinate the tomato flowers in unforeseen circumstances. It may help in increasing the number of tomato fruits.
Tomatoes are generally self-pollinating, and it is unnecessary to hand pollinate the flowers for fruit production.
However, some factors, including high temperatures, lack of wind, and excess moisture, may cause poor pollination.
In such situations, you may hand-pollinate tomatoes on warm, sunny days with low humidity.
I prefer to collect the pollen in a small container and rub them onto the end of the flower stigma. Practice it every two to three days for successful pollination.
Here is the video to tickle the tomatoes using a hand:
How to Harvest Tomatoes?
Harvest the tomato fruits once they turn pink and ripen them off the vine. Don’t wait until the fruits mature as it may increase the chance of fruit cracking.
You may harvest the tomato fruits twice a week during the warm weather. As the tomato fruits begin to turn pink, you may harvest the fruits and ripen them off the vine.
If the fruits remain on the plant until maturity, it may increase the chance of fruit cracking.
Now the tomatoes are ready for sauces, stews, roasting, salads, and canning.
General Tips And Considerations for Growing Tomatoes in Raised Beds
You may rotate the crops every year, stake and regularly prune, amend the soil every year, and attract pollinators. It helps to succeed with tomato yield in a raised bed.
- Rotate the crops every year – You may rotate where you planted tomatoes every year with another unrelated vegetable. It helps in restoring the nutrients to different areas of the bed. It may also help in preventing diseases, including blight in the garden. I recommend rotating tomato plants with cruciferous vegetables, carrots, beets, or beans.
- Stake early – If you are planning to add support to the tomato plants, add them immediately after transplanting the seedling. Otherwise, the insertion of the stakes may spoil the root system.
- Prune regularly – Pruning the plants regularly will help in controlling plant growth. Also, larger fruits may be produced as the plants may spend their energy producing fruits.
- Amend the soil every year – It is important to amend the soil every year. Add a couple of inches of organic matter to the soil as the tomato plants are heavy feeders. You may check your soil annually for nutrient deficiency and correct them accordingly.
- Attract pollinators – You may plant flowering trees near the raised garden bed to attract the bees and pollinators.
You may plant 4 to 5 tomato plants in a 4X4 raised garden bed. However, if you are using indeterminate tomato varieties or live in an area with a longer growing season, you may plant only 2 or 3 tomato plants.
Some of the plants that you may grow with tomatoes in a raised garden are basil, parsley, garlic, borage, asparagus, chives, and squash. French marigolds and nasturtiums may be also be used as companion plants with tomatoes.
I hope this detailed guide has provided many tips for growing tomatoes in the raised garden bed. You may follow these tricks to have a good tomato yield.
If you have grown tomatoes in the raised bed, let us know your suggestions and feedback. You may contact me for any queries.
Also, share the article with your friends and show us your support.