Tomatoes are some of the common crops that are grown in gardens and yards. There are several varieties of tomatoes that a gardener or home grower should take note of. The type of tomato can affect the size of the raised beds you are going to build.
You can plant about 4 to 5 tomato plants on 4 x 4-foot raised beds. Indeterminate types and areas belonging to Zone 10 can only fit about 2 to 3 plants since it needs wide space. The variety of tomatoes can help you know how much you can plant in a raised bed.
In this article, we will discuss what are indeterminate and determinate tomatoes. We will also tackle the advantages and tips of growing tomatoes in raised beds.
Indeterminate and Determinate Tomatoes
Since the variety of tomatoes is important for raised bed planting, we will first differentiate what these are. Tomatoes come in different types and two major categories, namely the indeterminate and determinate forms.
What are indeterminate tomatoes? The simpler term for this is vining tomatoes. As the word ‘vining’ suggests, it lengthens during the growing season. It will continue to grow until frost will eliminate it.
Determinate tomatoes are referred to as bush tomatoes. Unlike vining tomatoes, they have a fixed growth and will not extend in length, even if still in the midst of the growing season. It ripens the tomatoes for only two weeks. As for the characteristics of this plant, it will only grow about 4 to 5 inches, which is smaller than vining tomatoes.
The only similarity between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes in the aspect of planting is that they both require caging and staking. Some notable examples of vining tomatoes are Big Beef, Estiva, Green Zebra Organic, and Striped German Organic. For bush tomatoes, you can check Glacier Tomatoes, Bush Early Girl Tomatoes, and Legend Tomatoes.
If you wish to plant bush and vining tomatoes, you should first recognize them. Planting vining tomatoes with a space intended for bush types can affect their growth. Vining should have sufficient space to allow them to extend their stems in the beds.
If you are an avid consumer of vegetables, it may be a good idea for you to transform your backyard into a vegetable garden. This way, you will have your own source of produce and you will be able to partake in an activity that is good for your physical and mental health. To help you get started, here is a guide to turning your backyard into a vegetable garden.
Advantages of Growing Tomatoes in Raised Beds
Raised beds are the best way to grow tomatoes. Apart from providing the features that tomatoes need, they can protect the plant from pests and diseases caused by fungi. Most people are used to inground garden beds, but those have several drawbacks, which a raised bed can solve.
It has drainage
Raised beds are built higher on the ground. This allows the excess water to drain easily, and which such, you don’t need to create drainage after you’ve formed the raised beds. It allows the soil to stay warm and dry after you water them.
Some crops and plants, like tomatoes, require well-drained soil. These kinds of plants need enough sunlight and dry soil to grow healthily. Thus, planting them in raised beds is recommended.
You can plant more tomatoes
To allow your tomato plants to produce more tomatoes, you should space them out. This is possible if you use a raised bed for planting. Since this kind of plant bed is elevated, you can plant them closer together. It will provide you extra space to plant more, so you can have a bountiful harvest of tomatoes. Make sure to differentiate determinate and indeterminate types so you can leave enough space for each plant.
It is convenient when planting
When planting, you don’t need to bend your knees too much to reach the soil as planting beds are set higher than in-ground beds. This will make your planting sessions much easier and faster.
One of the common disadvantages when planting is bending. Some people cannot bend their knees for a long time, while others cannot completely do it. If you are experiencing pain or have an injury in your back or legs, planting in raised beds can solve your problem.
It allows you to improve the soil quality easily
You can make the soil quality healthy for the tomatoes. Adding topsoil, fertilizers, and other soil amendments while forming your raised beds can help you enhance the soil. An in-ground bed is also an option, but changing the whole characteristics of the soil for your tomatoes requires a lot of work.
Raised beds allow you to walk in between the plants without affecting the soil around them. It will make the soil and plant isolated from other elements that could cause contamination. Walking can make the soil compacted, and raised beds can prevent it.
Gardeners or farmers usually till the ground before adding amendments and fertilizers. With raised beds, you just need to add it to the topsoil if you want to improve it.
It allows you to change the soil
You can remove and change the soil that is infected with fungi by planting the tomatoes in a raised bed. Unlike in-ground beds, it is neither difficult nor costly to replace the soil since raised beds aren’t fixed on the ground. Besides, using raised beds can reduce maintenance and allow you to keep the plants healthy after the replacement of the soil.
Some places possess soil of bad quality. Raised beds can aid this problem as you will cover the existing soil with the better ones.
It can prevent pests from damaging the tomatoes
The barrier surrounding the raised beds can help in preventing pests from damaging your plants. Aside from being elevated, you can ensure the crawling pests cannot make their way to the soil and plants. Pests like aphids may still infest since they are not a crawling type. Note to check the tomato leaves regularly so you can apply the proper measures to eliminate them. Some organic sprays available on the market allow you to remove them.
Having raised beds will make your garden neat and well-ordered. The structure of the bed helps in preventing the plants from getting messy. You can see your tomatoes grow healthily without any intertwining stems from other plants. You are also allowed to categorize the different plants on different raised beds.
It alleviates weed growth
Weeds grow if the soil is compressed. This will compete with the nutrients and water your tomato plant should absorb. It will reduce your tomatoes’ nourishment and may lead to the plant’s death.
By using raised beds, you can prevent the growth of weeds in the soil. Some gardeners apply soil solarization before they start bed construction. Reducing the steps on the soil can also stop the weeds from growing wherein raised beds resolve it.
It can reduce erosion
Those raised beds with frames or barriers can prevent soil erosion. If it ever rains, the soil will be stagnant inside the bed. It can benefit you and your plants since you don’t have to fix it afterward. The water will just drain by itself if it fills the raised bed.
One of the beginner-friendly crops that you can plant in your backyard garden are chilies. They are used to add spice to food and they are also beneficial for a balanced diet. Begin your chili planting journey by reading our guide to planting chilies in your backyard garden.
Tips to Grow Tomatoes in Raised Beds
Before you build raised beds, you should keep in mind that tomatoes need a deep bed, which requires you to water them on their base. The water should reach and be absorbed by the plants’ roots, so it will be distributed to the entire tomato plant. There are several things you should keep in mind when growing tomatoes, and we will provide you with some tips to maintain the health of these plants.
Tomatoes grow well in warm temperatures. We recommend you plant them in early summer or late spring but if you are living in zone 10 areas. These tomatoes are considered winter and fall crops.
Find the ideal area for planting
Even though you already established your raised beds, you still need to find the best spots for your tomatoes. The soil in this raised bed should be leveled. Make sure it can also drain properly and is near water access.
Choose an area that receives about eight hours of sunlight daily. Although, tomatoes also need shade after, so avoid exposing them to direct sunlight after the required time.
Don’t water on top of the raised beds
When watering tomatoes in raised beds, avoid spraying a hose on top of it. The most important thing when watering plants is the roots, meaning that you should water the bottom or base area of the plants.
If you water the plants’ leaves, they will catch some diseases, which leads to damages. You can’t ensure whether or not the water will reach and provide enough water for the roots. Establishing irrigation can reduce the time spent watering the plants manually.
Pinch the side-shoots
Pinching means removing the side-shoots growing to keep the tomato plant healthy. These side-shoots can damage your plant’s growth if they are ignored. They will grow fast and can produce another set of fruits or crops. This will make your garden messy and can lead it to compete with the nutrients and water provided for the main stem of the tomato.
Change the tomatoes’ spots
Soil’s characteristics may not fit other plants but fit your tomatoes. That is why you should rotate the position of your tomatoes and that of your other plants after two years. Over time, your soil will provide nutrients that are more suitable for a different plant.
Pests may tend to stay on a certain type of soil depending on the season. If this occurs, your tomatoes will be affected and these pests will damage them. To prevent this, we recommend you move and replace them with a different plant.
Remove rotten tomatoes
Make sure to remove garbage or rotten tomatoes from the raised beds. These can impact the growth of other tomatoes, so you better clean them up. Don’t let them decompose in the raised bed.
Aside from rotten tomatoes, you should also remove unripe ones. You can put them in the compost to make them useful.
Create deeper beds
Tomatoes need more water, and their roots penetrate deep. You need to make the beds 12 inches or deeper for the healthier growth of your tomatoes. Prepare the raised beds by measuring the area first.
After you’ve already put a perimeter for the spot, you can proceed to loosen the soil to the desired depth. You can use a rake, hoe, tiller, or any kind of tool to loosen the soil.
Annual soil amendments
Tomatoes do not only consume lots of water but also need a huge amount of nutrients. The soil you are using should have good quality, and applying amendments can help you with that. To maintain the condition of the soil, we advise you to amend it yearly.
Remove the sod if you are going to make a new raised bed. Amend the soil under it with compost and topsoil. You should put compost in the soil every year when you’re going to plant again. The best range of soil pH for tomatoes is between 6.2 and 6.8.
Provide enough space for each of the plants
The space you should provide to your tomato plants depends on their varieties. Some classes of tomatoes are called vining tomatoes and grow like vines. They require abundant space to prevent them from intertwining with each other.
You should keep each of these plants 3 feet apart from each other. As for bush tomatoes, a 2 feet distance is enough.
Once believed to be vegetables, tomatoes are one of the top fruits that people want to grow in their backyards. If you are one of these people, then you will surely need a guide to growing tomatoes in your backyard.
Tomatoes are common crops that are widely used as food. If you are someone who loves tomatoes or if you use them a lot in your cooking, planting them in your backyard is definitely a good idea. But before you get yourself some seeds or seedlings, you need to keep in mind that growing such plants in your yard requires great attention since they need plenty of water and nutrients.
Before you decide to plant tomatoes in your garden, make sure to learn the basic information and know some tips on how to successfully grow this kind of plant. With such, you can guarantee that your tomatoes will grow healthy and offer you an abundant harvest.