How to Transplant Heirloom Tomato Plants Into the Ground

by NorthernHomestead
Tomatoes are a warm weather crop; they do not tolerate frost and do not like cold, wet weather either. Wait till the last frost day and give them some protection.
The best place to grow tomatoes in a northern garden is a greenhouse. We grow tomatoes vertically and space them about a foot to a foot and a half apart.
Plants can’t go from indoors right into the ground; it will put way too much stress on them. First get them used to the outdoor or greenhouse environment while still in the pot. Starting with a few hours in the shade and then leaving them for longer and they will get used to their new location. Now they can be transplanted without being killed in the process.
Dig a bigger hole than the plant is – it helps to loosen the soil all around the plant and encourages root growth. Add 1-2 cups manure to the hole before planting (I use sheep manure). The manure will give the plants a boost. If the soil is very dry, like it usually is in a greenhouse, water the hole.

Be sure not to water the plant to much before transplanting so it holds better together. By turning the pot upside down and tapping on the pot, the plant will come right out.
Now place it gently into the hole and fill the hole with loose soil. If the plant is a bit leggy it can be buried deeper just like by transplanting the seedlings. By very leggy plants you can even lay the plant down to be able to bury more of the stem.
Do not press it down too hard but water the plant right away; the water will push the soil down as much as needed. It is good to make a mold around the plant for watering, so that the water can go directly to the plant and not flow away to lower ground.
Give the plants some protection from the sun during the first days, a Frost Blankets works very well. It also gives some protection from wind and cold during the night. I leave the blanket on for at least three days.
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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  • Richard Elphick Richard Elphick on Jul 12, 2016
    While not directly related to your subject my question has relevance. What can I do to combat powdery mildew?

  • Susan Susan on Aug 09, 2016
    I have tried for several years to grow tomatoes in buckets (with drainage holes). All I ever get are tall, leggy plants with some blooms that usually fall off without producing any fruit. I've tried gardening soil, fertilizer, compost, pinching off the suckers and not removing suckers, etc, etc. I didn't bother this year since nothing seems to work. Anyone have any special tips for growing tomatoes in containers?

  • Khawkey Khawkey on Nov 02, 2022

    What type of greenhouse is that? Did you buy or build? Are there plans to follow if the latter? Thanks~

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  • Rosanne Rosanne on Jul 10, 2016
    I DO take off the lower leaves, but I root them in water; in 7-10 days the roots should start forming. I don't put into small pots until there are a lot of roots

    When transferring plants to the garden, I separate the roots a bit prior to placing in the an oversized hole. Most plants are root bound in the pots you purchase them in, and by separating them it helps them sprout out more easily. My tomatoes are 5 ft. tall with plenty of tomatoes. Can't wait for them to ripen!