How to Grow Tomatoes in a Raised Bed

Are your tomato plants not getting enough drainage? Follow these steps on growing tomatoes in a raised bed.
Roma Tomatoes

Roma Tomatoes

Materials and Tools:

water
topsoil
edging material
flour
tomato plants
compost
cow manure
vegetable-safe fertilizer
mulch
garden hose
spade
tiller
tomato cages
spading fork
hard rake

Steps:

1. Choose a site for the raised bed that's level and free of debris. Select a well-draining spot that's close to a water source and receives at least eight hours of direct sun daily.

2. Remove sod and use a tiller to turn and loosen the soil. If the ground is very hard and there isn't access to a tiller, use a spading fork to break up the soil. Deeply rooted plants to be planted in the raised bed will need to penetrate the soil below.

3. Create an outline of the raised bed with the edging material or even flour from the kitchen. Calculate the estimated volume of soil needed for the project by measuring the length times the width times the depth of the raised bed; the bed should be at least 12" deep to give the roots room to grow and allow for proper drainage. Lumber, cinderblocks or stone can be used as edging materials. They're heavy enough to keep a raised bed in place for a long time, and they can be inexpensive or free. The only cost may be the time and effort required to move them into place.

How to Grow Great Tomatoes 03:53

Gardening expert Patti Moreno shares five tips for growing tomatoes and preventing common problems.

4. The soil is the key ingredient to a successful raised vegetable bed. Get enough topsoil to fill the estimated depth of the raised bed. Since tomatoes are heavy feeders and prefer a rich, organic soil, mix in two- to three-inch layers of compost and cow manure to the top one-third of the topsoil. Rake the soil smooth.

5. Tomatoes can be deeply planted since roots can form along the length of the stems. Plant them at 18- to 24-inch spacing. Don't worry about letting the plants lean to one side; in a few days, they straighten up on their own. Water tomatoes regularly to avoid blossom-end rot, which is caused when the soil is allowed to dry out. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, and regularly feed plants with vegetable-safe or 10-10-10 fertilizer according to the label recommendations. Apply a two- to three-inch layer of mulch around the base of the plants.

Tip: As tomato plants start growing, they'll need to be staked for support. Use wooden stakes, cages or wire supports to train tomatoes.

Next Up

Should I Plant My Vegetable Garden in Raised Beds?

The pros and cons of raised bed gardening.

Best Tomato Varieties for the South

Tried and true hybrids and heirlooms are your best bet when growing tomatoes in Southern gardens.

Growing Tomatoes in Containers

It’s possible to grow any kind of tomato in a container, but it’s important to match the size of the pot to the size of the plant.

Growing Tomatoes From Seed

Tips for producing vigorous tomato seedlings for transplanting outdoors.

Root Vegetables for Raised Beds

Root vegetables such as carrots and beets often have misshapen roots when grown in rocky soil. Since root crops prefer well-drained soil, they're ideal for growing in raised beds, where their roots can develop freely.

How to Sow and Plant Fruiting Vegetables

Large leaves, golden flowers and heavy yields make squashes, zucchini and cucumbers ideal plants for productive pots.

Q&A: Tomatoes That Fail to Ripen

Identify the cause for sunken spots on tomatoes and how to treat the problem.

How to Ripen Green Tomatoes

Extend the season by ripening year-end crops indoors.

Growing Tomatoes Indoors

Learn how to get started growing tomatoes indoors — even in the winter.

Which Tomatoes to Grow on My Patio?

Any tomato variety regardless of size can be grown in a container.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.