Never Plant Tomatoes Deep
On a Saturday morning garden show, a caller was advised to plant long-stemmed tomato plants deep. Supposedly, burying the stems deep in the garden soil forces the plant to produce new roots along the stem, resulting in a stronger plant. I strongly disagree.
That tomato plant was growing in a pot in a greenhouse. Its roots were surrounded by air containing 21 percent oxygen. Roots of plants need oxygen, while the green tops need carbon dioxide. Planting the roots deep means less oxygen is available to the roots. Thus deep planting does force the stem to generate new roots, but it won’t happen quickly.
Create an Efficient
If rain is excessive, the plant may not survive because the original root system will drown. This is especially true in silt or clay loam. Oxygen will penetrate a sandy soil deeper than a silt or clay-loam soil. Oxygen does not easily penetrate compacted soil.
If you purchased tomato or pepper plants with long stems, plant them shallow as you would other bedding plants. Stake and tie the stems to keep them upright. If you compare both methods, you’ll see that the plants will establish rapidly and resume normal growth long before the plant that was planted deep in the soil.
Much of my agricultural research involved studying roots and root development. I have a great appreciation for roots because without them there are no higher green plants. That’s why I place such high value on knowing and testing the soil. We cannot take soil for granted and assume that just because it has a good rich brown color it will be productive.
A productive garden has a pH between 6.2 to 7.0 with optimum levels of calcium and magnesium as well as phosphorus and potassium. If your garden soil is sandy, have it tested for boron. Boron is a very essential element in plant nutrition and is often deficient in sandy loam or loamy sand garden soils.
For this reason, I will not make any fertilizer recommendations unless the soil has been tested by a reputable soil testing laboratory.
I recommend sending soil samples to A&L Eastern Laboratories, Inc., 7621 White Pine Rd., Richmond, VA 23237. Get information on taking soil samples and the types of soil testing at www.al-labs-eastern.com.
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