How to Grow Tomatoes in a Raised Bed

If your soil doesn't drain well, you might be better off growing your tomatoes in raised beds.

Like most vegetables, tomatoes like well-draining, nitrogen-rich soil with a pH of around 6.5. Growing in a raised bed allows you to create the perfect conditions for your tomato plants, rather than trying to amend your native soil to get just-right conditions.

These tomato ladders can support over 100 pounds and are particularly effective because of their V-shaped design which protects the plants from accidental breakage and strong winds.

The Solanum lycopersicum's Best Friend

These tomato ladders can support over 100 pounds and are particularly effective because of their V-shaped design which protects the plants from accidental breakage and strong winds.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Gardener's Supply

Image courtesy of Gardener's Supply

Prepare the Site

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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Edging materials can include umber, cinderblocks or stone. 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.

Tips for a Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Raised bed vegetable gardening takes very little space and allows vegetables to be grown closer together. It's also a great solution for areas with poor native soil. Discover how to make the best use of your raised beds.

Add the Soil

The soil is the key ingredient to a successful raised vegetable bed. Get enough light topsoil or raised bed soil 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 or cow manure to the top one-third of the topsoil. Rake the soil smooth.

How to Plant, Grow and Care for Tomatoes

Consider this your ultimate guide to choosing tomato plants, planting, growing and caring for tomatoes, and harvesting the best-tasting tomatoes ever.

Plant Tomatoes

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 at planting and regularly while growing 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.
  • Mulch with a two- to three-inch layer around the base of the plants.
  • Stake tomato plants for support as they start growing. Use wooden stakes, cages or wire supports to train tomatoes.

Next Up

How to Turn a Galvanized Tub Into a Raised Garden Bed

Learn how to turn a simple galvanized metal trough into a beautiful container garden for flowers or veggies.

How to Make a Raised Planter Box From an Old Desk

See how we upcycled an old desk into a waist-high, garden box perfect for growing lettuces, herbs and other shallow-rooted plants and vegetables.

Tips for a Raised-Bed Vegetable Garden

Gardening with raised beds takes very little space and is also a great solution for areas with poor native soil. Start raised-bed gardening with these expert tips.

How Far Apart Should Tomatoes Be Planted?

Tomato plant spacing depends on a few factors, including the variety type and the type of garden. Follow our advice and you'll be spacing for success.

12 Easy Tips for Growing Tomato Plants in Pots

While there are many advantages to growing tomatoes in containers, there are some things to keep in mind to help ensure success. Here are tips and the best varieties for patio tomatoes.

How to Grow Cucumbers in a Pot

Growing cool, crunchy cucumbers in a container is easy if you know the steps. These basics will make them a success.

How to Build a Raised Garden Bed Step-by-Step

Take your garden to the next level with this complete plan and step-by-step instructions for an easy raised garden bed DIY project. Your plants (and wallet) will thank you.

All About Square Foot Gardening

Learn the pros, cons and tips for exploring this beginner-friendly gardening method.

Companion Planting for Tomatoes

Learn what companion plants to grow alongside your tomatoes to improve tomato plants' health and boost your harvest.

How to Replant an Overwintered Pot in Spring or Summer

So, you left your pot filled with tender perennials or annuals outside all winter? Whoops! Don't worry, it happens. We'll show you how to determine which plants are ready for another growing season and how to replace the dearly departed with new plants.

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