Time to Plant the Sprouts

I usually plant my tomatoes in at least two groups. For one reason, if there's a frost or cold spell, it can stunt the plants. So I plant about 1/2 of my plants as soon as I can, then another batch 2 weeks to a month later. For the varieties that put out their harvest all at once, you also get two waves of tomatoes. Another reason is if you buy sprouts from a local nursery, there can be different varieties available. I like trying a few I've never heard of before.

Go to the nursury that morning or the day before you plan to do your planting. It's best to get those sprouts from the store in the ground as soon as possible. They are delivered at the stage of growth they are to give you the best chance of thriving. My experience has been that if you leave them in too long, they assume that is going to be all the soil they will ever have and plan not to get very big. If things come up, they are usually ok for about a week. Try and leave them somewhere they will get water daily, such as under some automatic sprinklers if you have them. If it's hot out, put them somewhere that is not in direct sun more than 1/2 the day.

Gather your tools

The minimum you will need is a shovel and watering can which preferably contains some water. I recommend putting some Vitamin B solution they sell at stores in the water at planting time. Follow the directions and estimate on the low side if you don't have a measuring device. Too little fertilizer is always better than too much! Mix it in well, find a stick and stir it a bit. I like to put in a few drops of Super Thrive too. Super Thrive has all those little with and without pictures that are about 1/8 inch square on the bottle. So you might want to bring a magnifying glass if your thinking about seeing how big your plant will get. Now I ungress. Bone meal is good to put at the bottom of the hole, which I will explain shortly. And one last thing, is a product called Tomatoes Alive. I will link to it shortly. You mix in a tablespoon of this gritty looking stuff, so have the bag of that handy and something to measure with. Old green Miracle Grow spoons are great.

    Day of Planting Checklist

  • Shovel
  • Watering Can, with water, Vitamin B12, and Super Thrive
  • Bonemeal
  • Tomatoe's Alive
  • Sprouts
  • Locations Selected

Double Checking the Locations

Now you have everything together, or if you're like me, you remember one thing at a time and have to keep going back to the garage for each item. Plan where you will be planting. If you have sprouts in separate 4x4 pots, put them where they will be going. Visualize them 4 feet tall and a couple of feet wide. If you have other plants around them that will grow out during the summer, be sure to include that in your visualization. If they look too cramped together in your mind, consider moving them apart. Also, when the tomato plants grow out, some that are by a fence may be difficult to get too. Be sure you have the best access possible to your plants. You need to remove dead leaves, runners and insects, not to mention the fruit, so be sure you have room.

Preparing the Hole

Start digging! This is one of my favorite parts. When you plant the tomato, you are going to put it in the ground deeper than it is in it's current pot. To a little above the first node of leaves. If the sprouts have gone too long, plant them even deeper. Roots grow will out of the side of the stem that's under the dirt. So dig the hole deep enough to put in the sprout as specified, plus another 6 inches. Then put a tablespoon of bonemeal at the bottom of the whole, cover it with a little dirt and mix it up. Then fill in the dirt to where you want it to put in the sprouts.

Removing the Sprouts from the pots/trays

Carefully pull the spouts out of the little pot, of from the 6-pack. Push in the bottom a little bit, and sqeeze the corners a little. This should loosen it up just enough so that all the dirt comes out as intact as possible. The dirt should be a little moist, don't plant when it's dried out. Pop it out. Don't let full sun hit the roots for one second. So plant at a time when you can keep your back to the sun to sheild things or have someone blocking the sun for you. There's a good reason why roots are underground. Carefully pull off the bottom set of leaves. Try and snap them off by pulling up a little. Don't pulld down! A fiber from the leaf will often tear down the side of the stem, and it's my opinion it's not preferable to do that.

Putting the Spout in

Put the plant in the hole, put dirt back into the whole a few inches, and then pour in some water. Pour it all the way around and soak it in, getting the roots a bit. If you are using Tomatoes Alive, put in 1/2 of the scoop now, sprinkling it evenly around the base of the plant. Fill in more dirt, and put in the last 1/2 of the scoop of Tomatoes alive right before that last few scoops of dirt, and stir it in a little. Then fill in the rest of the dirt. Pack it a little, but not too much. Enough to be sure the plant is standing up straight. Then water one more time for now. I usually go over everything with a hose after they're all in.

Tomato Cages

If you will be using tomato cages, put them in place now. I usually also put in one 4 ft stake at this plant. Mainly to hold up the cage in case the plant gets lopsided. See the section on staking for more on that.


That's about it for the planting stage. It's an important part of the process to take the time to do things right. Once they're in, they're in, except when a dog digs them up.


Make sure they are well watered for the following days, then after a week, give them all a dose of fish emulsion. Measure it slightly on the low side and pour some over the leaves. The plant will absorb it throught the leaves. See First Week Care