How to plant tomatoes?

We saw a few days ago when to plant tomatoes…

Today let’s see how to plant tomatoes.

But first, let’s start by distinguishing 2 conditions for planting tomatoes.

Plant Conditions

There are 2 possible situations:

  • planting in bare soil
  • planting in covered soil (including a cultivation mound)

From a global standpoint aimed at promoting soil life over time, there’s no denying that planting tomatoes in covered soil (in a permanent mulch) is the best possible approach.

But the gardener generally strives for good harvests…

However, this solution, which is so interesting from an ecological point of view, has 2 drawbacks:

  • the soil will have more trouble warming up, but the tomato needs a sufficiently warm soil to develop properly
  • the mulch is home to many snails, fond of young plants…

In addition to your own ecological conviction, the weather at that time can therefore be a criterion to take into account when choosing to plant tomatoes in covered or bare soil

Specifically, if the weather is nice for a while and the weather is dry, the cover will not be a problem (the ground will probably be warm enough, and the snails are “discreet” if it does not rain …).

On the other hand, if you are planting early in the season and a rainy season is underway, it may be wiser to plant in bare soil…

Personally, and since the unpredictable weather during the development and production period of the plants will of course also have an impact, to put the odds on my side I generally do both (some of my plants are in covered ground and another in bare ground… but then malted).

Some years it will be the plants in covered soil that will give the best, while other years it will be the opposite.

Preparations for planting tomatoes in the vegetable garden

If possible about 3 weeks before planting tomatoes, prepare your planting holes.

Preparing the planting holes in advance is not mandatory. You can absolutely do it at the last minute; but you will then not integrate nettle and comfrey leaves (which would not have time to decompose) …

In soil that is covered for several seasons and therefore normally alive and fertile, it is really optional.

Preparation of planting holes

If you want to plant tomatoes in soil covered with mulch, first spread the mulch over a diameter of at least 30 cm (this also allows the soil to warm up more easily).

handful of nettles in the planting hole

About 3 weeks before the planned planting date:

  • dig, with a shovel or by hand (if the soil is loose enough for this), a hole 25-30 cm deep and the width of a shovel (15-20 cm)
  • place, at the bottom of this hole, a few nettle and/or comfrey leaves (some recommend chopping them…it’s not necessary in my opinion)
  • do not close the hole, otherwise the leaves may not decompose properly

This will allow the mineral elements resulting from the breakdown of these leaves to be available to the young plants once planted.


When preparing the hole, take the opportunity to mix well-ripened compost with the kept soil (at a rate of 50% compost for about 50% soil).

This can of course only be done during planting, but if you do this in advance, it all comes to life…

But now let’s see how to plant tomatoes.

How deep should the tomato plant be planted?

plant tomatoes
The stem is buried deep

Your goal should be to bury the stem as deep as possible.

Roots will indeed form all over the buried part of the stem.

And so, the more you bury this stem, the more the tomato plant’s root system can develop…

To do this, remove the cotyledons and possibly even the first true leaves.

If your planting hole isn’t deep enough (and even if it is), you can tilt the plant all the way over to bury even more stem.

the plantation

Planting tomatoes in “bare” soil

Tomato plant in bare soil
This tomato plant was planted in bare soil

Compared to planting in covered soil, this approach has the advantage that the soil can warm up better (and as we have seen, tomatoes need a soil that is warm enough to develop properly) and it also minimizes the risk to the young plant. being devoured by snails…

Here’s how:

  • just place your plant in the hole, pushing the stem as deep as possible (feel free to put it down a bit)
  • close the hole with the soil/compost mixture
  • pack the soil around the plant lightly
  • water abundantly (even if it has to rain… because a good watering allows the soil to agglomerate well around the roots) at the base, taking care not to wet the foliage

Planting tomatoes in covered soil

Planting tomatoes in covered soil
Tomatoes planted in covered soil

The main disadvantage of plants in covered soil lies in the fact that the mulch is a real nest for snails.

You will therefore have to make sure that the plants are already well developed to put them in the ground (an already woody plant is less tasty for snails than a tender young seedling…).

And that’s probably where snail protection comes in, as we’ll see below.

You start by removing the mulch (the more it rains, the wiser it is to remove as much of the mulch as possible…)

For the rest, planting in covered soil is the same as in bare soil.

Leave the mulch aside until the soil warms up…

But let’s see in this short video:

Maintenance after planting

Promote the start of the tomato plant

You can add a little mature compost to the surface, at the base of the plants… In addition to the food that will benefit the plant, the dark color of the compost promotes warming of the soil.

Watering with nettle fertilizer at the beginning of vegetation (maximum 2 or 3, with an interval of 7-10 days) is beneficial for the development of the plant.

Then continue watering with a comfrey-based preparation (every 10-15 days) to promote fruit flowering, formation and ripening.

chopping wood

Mulled tomato plant
A good mulch is beneficial once the soil has warmed up

If you have planted in zero soil, as soon as you plant, mulch with a few fine comfrey leaves (comfrey leaves are not very thick. If you do just a little bit, they will protect the soil for a few weeks without really doing any damage. target its warming, essential for proper growth).

Surround the plants with wood ash (renew after each rain) or better, with freshly cut fronds; these fresh leaves (it is absolutely necessary that they are) will protect the plants from snails (if the ground is covered with a mulch, I really advise you to do it …).

For a more substantial mulch (several cm thick) on bare soil at planting time, or to return the mulch to the base of the plants in covered soil, I recommend waiting until the soil has warmed up enough (usually not before the end of May).

Here’s your tomato plants for beautiful harvests!

And you, how do you go about planting tomatoes? Or do you have questions? The comments below are for that (thank you for using this comment system instead of emailing me your questions… it saves me having to answer the same questions 50 times… and it benefits everyone !)