tips for growing tomatoes in raised beds

5 tips for growing tomatoes in raised beds

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Every year, I have to make sure that I make lots of room for growing tomatoes in raised beds. I love to plant a variety, from the little cherry tomatoes that you can pop in your mouth like candy, to those big juicy ones that you can slice for summer burgers. 

Despite tomatoes being among my favourite crops, that late-summer garden fatigue can make me lazy. Last year I let a few of my plants get a bit too wild, and ultimately, it affected the fruit. Here are a few tips that I recommend following as you plant your seedlings, and throughout the growing season.

Tips for growing tomatoes in raised beds

1. Stake them early and carefully
Depending on how high your raised beds are, the subsoil underneath may not be very forgiving. I’ve bent many a tomato cage by carelessly trying to shove them in the soil around a new plant. Instead, carefully press each “leg” of the cage into the soil, one at a time, until you work the whole thing in deep enough. And speaking of new plants, your seedlings may be so small that it seems silly to put a cage around them right away. It’s best not to wait. Once the plants start to grow, you risk inadvertently snapping off a limb or damaging the plant.

2. Never water from above
As packed full of plants as your raised beds may be, avoid taking the garden hose and simply spraying everything, hoping the roots get wet. It may be time-consuming, but it’s worth watering at the base of each plant to avoid splashing the leaves (which could spread soil-borne diseases) and to make sure each plant gets a good drink. To save time and water, consider installing an irrigation system like this one that will deliver water directly to the base of your plants.

3. Pinch, pinch, pinch!
Get rid of those suckers (the new growth that comes up between a stem and a branch) as soon as possible. Simply pinch them out with your fingers. You don’t want to have to cut off an unruly branch later on. It also helps the plant focus more on the fruit.

4. Rotate your tomato crops
Raised beds make crop rotation easy because you can keep track of where everything is from year to year. It’s a good idea to rotate where you plant things every two to three years for a couple of reasons. The first is because different plants take up different nutrients from the soil. Also, some pests and diseases can overwinter in the soil. For example, Colorado potato beetles, which enjoy the foliage of nightshade veggies, like to linger around until spring and lie in wait for your tender new plants.

It’s also a good idea to move the entire plant family, so if it’s time to move your tomatoes to a new garden, it’s a good idea to avoid planting other nightshade veggies in the same place.

5. Tidy up at the end of the season
When you’re pulling out spent plants in the fall, be sure to toss any unripe or already-rotten tomatoes in the compost, instead of letting them decompose in the garden. You may find yourself pulling up wee tomato seedlings in the spring!

More tomato-growing tips:

Raised Bed Revolution link to book

More info on growing in raised beds: 

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tips to grow tomatoes in raised beds

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11 Responses to 5 tips for growing tomatoes in raised beds

  1. kim says:

    How many plants would you put in a 4×4 bed?

    • Pavel says:

      They are should be 18-24 inch apart. So i would plant 5. 1 in the middle and 4 at the corners 10-12 inch from the side.

  2. Tara Nolan says:

    Hi Kim,
    I think four would probably suffice, maybe five if you place one in the middle. It will give you space for the tomato cages and space for them to grow.
    Happy gardening!

    • Kim says:

      Thank you! That was what I was thinking…I don’t want to do the crazy square foot method that allows for one per square. Too labour intensive and not fun

  3. Mark says:

    Last year, I did 1 plant per square foot and had a great harvest off of 8 tomato plants. This year I’m trying to scale it up and I have 48 plants! The key as you said is heavy pruning, watering at the base and solid staking.

  4. Timothy C. Page says:

    BIg item that was omitted from the article: Ca. If the plants don’t get enough calcium, especially early in their growth, they will have blossom end rot. You can use oyster shell, which you can buy online. Severe blossom end rot means you have really poor quality tomatoes that don’t keep long.

  5. DAYLE KELLY says:

    are raised beds deep enough for tomato plants?

  6. Jenna says:

    Nice post thank you! Can you tell the kinds of tomatoes in your photoes? They look great!
    🙂 JENNA

    • Tara Nolan says:

      Hi Jenna, the big tomato on the left of the main image is a Burpee variety called Gladiator. On the right are Blueberry and another variety I can’t remember and the pin is Costoluto Genovese.

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