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.

February 01, 2021

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 Build an Architectural Raised Bed

This easy-to-construct design raises your garden to new heights. Paint it a fun color or leave the wood bare for a natural look.

What the Heck Is Hugelkultur?

Want to grow bigger plants with less water? Try hugelkultur gardening. Learn how these earth-friendly raised beds work.

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.

A Raised Bed Twist: Straw Bale Gardening

An easy, inexpensive raised bed solution.

All About Square Foot Gardening

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

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.

Late-Summer Container Refresh

Expert tips for sprucing up your containers when summer heat begins to take its toll.

Host a Summer Harvest Garden Party

Throw an end-of-summer backyard bash and share your harvest with friends.

What to Plant in August

It's not too late to plant, even in late summer. You can still grow short-season veggies, herbs and flowers in August from seeds or transplants.

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.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

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