Now that you have chosen your tomato plants it is time to put them in the ground. There is a trick to planting tomatoes that helps them get through a long, dry, hot Georgia summer.
Step 1: Tomatoes need full sun, 8 hours, for setting fruit. They also need well-drained, porous soil with a pH of about 6.2. Plan on giving them at least 2 feet X 3 feet of growing space. You will need to stake the plants or use wire cages to contain the plant growth. Once you have your site ready, start with a healthy plant with a strong stem. Notice the stem seems hairy.
Step 2: Gently remove the lower leaves with snippers or by pinching them off with your fingers. Be careful not to make tears along the stem which would create wounds. Leave the top two or three leaves.
Step 3: Dig the hole deep enough so that you can bury the stem up to the remaining top leaves. The part that is planted under the soil will develop roots creating a strong, deep root system that will help the plant better handle dry periods.
Press the soil around the plant so that a slight depression is formed for holding water. These steps should get you one step closer to that BLT!
For more information about growing tomatoes see Robert Westerfield’s publication Georgia Home Grown Tomatoes. For the best information for your area, contact your local UGA Extension Agent.