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Planting Tomatoes In Raised Beds – A Helpful Guide

We’ve all seen them on Pinterest: those raised garden beds that take your gardening game to the next level. How difficult can building a box in your backyard be? Suddenly, you’re looking for all the information you can about planting tomatoes in raised beds.

Tomato plants can be grown in a raised bed with a bit of extra work on your part. Raised beds can be a great way to elevate your plants, keep them warmer, and make your harvesting easier at the end of the season.

As a new gardener looking to plant tomatoes in raised beds, you might not know where to start. After all, there is so much to learn! Continue reading to everything you need to know about growing tomatoes – and growing them in a raised bed. 

What Temperature Can Tomato Plants Tolerate

Tomatoes are not frost tolerant crops and should only be planted when temperatures are consistently above at least 50 degrees.

Whether planting your tomatoes in a regular garden or a raised bed, you need to know the proper temperature to plant your tomato crops in. 

After all, the most important step in getting tomatoes at the end of the growing season is to give your tomato plants a healthy start.

When considering when to plant your tomato plant, don’t only consider daytime temperature. Fifty degrees is the magic number you want when planting your tomatoes, but don’t forget that temperatures tend to dip lower at night in most places well after the last frost.

You will need to know your own climate, but I would say that mid-to-late April is the perfect time to start your tomato plants without having to worry if it is too cold. 

Can You Plant Tomatoes In A Raised Bed

You can plant tomatoes in a raised bed.

Now that the temperature is finally creeping up and staying above 50 degrees, you might start to wonder if you can plant tomatoes in a raised bed.

The answer is this: yes, you can. 

Raised tomato beds give you a different experience than planting your tomatoes in a regular garden, and some pros and cons come along with it, as with anything else. 

Pros Of Planting Tomatoes In Raised Beds

You’ve already learned a lot about raised beds, so let’s bring it back to talk about some of the pros of planting tomatoes in raised beds:

  • Raised beds help drainage for tomato plants
  • Raised beds warm easier, and tomatoes like warm soil
  • You can plant more crops at different levels in your garden
  • The raised bed can have different soil from the other parts of your garden
  • Plants in raised beds are often more productive than crops planted in regular soil

Cons Of Planting Tomatoes In Raised Beds

Nothing is without cons, and there are even negative aspects to planting tomatoes and other crops in raised beds, such as:

  • You will need to purchase additional soil to fill the raised bed
  • You may need to be the one to build your raised bed, which can be especially difficult if you are not handy
  • The raised beds get warmer, which means that you will need to water your tomato plants more often
  • Some crops will be harder to harvest in the center of the raised bed 

5 Tips For Growing Tomatoes In A Raised Bed

Whenever you try something new, you’re always looking for tips to have the best outcome for the process. 

The following five tips will help you grow tomatoes in a raised bed – and your neighbors will ask how you became such a professional!

Reinforce Your Raised Beds

I can’t say this enough: Ensure your raised bed is reinforced and strong.

You’ll put soil into this raised bed and then plant your tomato plants in it. You don’t want the sides of your raised bed to break open one day. You’ll have an avalanche of tomato plants pouring out!

As with most things, you should do it right when you start. You won’t have to worry about the raised bed breaking like a dam.

Build Your Raised Bed Where There Is Good Sunlight

Your plants will need sunlight, so make sure you choose a spot in your garden where there is strong sunlight.

Unlike pots, you’re not going to be able to pick up your raised bed to move it somewhere else.

If you’re already a gardener, your regular garden may be in the perfect spot for sun, so you may have to do some extra thinking for your raised bed. 

Don’t Cut Corners When It Comes To Size

Someone with a small yard may want to make their raised bed as small as possible, but you don’t want to do this.

Make your raised bed as large as you can make it to give your tomato plants and other plants the best chance at gardening. 

Don’t Plant Certain Crops With Your Tomatoes

Not every plant does well around tomato plants.

Here are a few different crops to avoid planting near your tomatoes:

  • Corn
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli

Don’t Overcrowd Your Tomato Plants

Every article you read will tell you to give your tomato plants a few feet of room, which is a warning you should heed! 

Your tomato plants need space to grow, so make sure that you give them this room when you plant the seeds or seedlings. 

How To Build A Raised Bed For Tomato Plants

When it comes to a raised bed, you will build your own raised bed from scratch.

You can build your raised bed with untreated wood from the hardware store. The length will depend on how large your raised bed will be (more on that later). You can also purchase trim to add some interest to your raised bed.

Then you need to use large screws to screw into the corners of the garden bed. Again, don’t skim here because you don’t want your raised garden bed to break.

The hardest part comes when you need to fill the raised bed with soil. After all, you’ve built a sandbox for your plants. You’ll need more than a few wheelbarrows full of soil to fill the raised bed.

Use high-quality soil that is suited for your tomato plants – in this case with nitrogen and phosphorus – to give your tomato plants the best chance possible. 

Building your own raised bed can be tedious, but it will allow you to:

  • Pick the materials that fit the aesthetic of the rest of your garden
  • Choose the materials you think are best
  • Choose where to put the raised garden bed
  • Decide how big your tomato bed should be
  • Make the raised bed as tall as you choose

How Big Should A Raised Bed For Tomatoes Be

The size of your raised bed for tomatoes is going to be dictated by how many tomato plants you want to plant. 

If you want to plant four tomato plants in your garden, a 4’x4′ raised bed will be the right size for you.

Raised tomato beds do not need to be massive, but they must be large enough to accommodate the number of individual tomato plants you want to plant. You’ll need some forward thought to know how many tomato plants you want to plant to make your raised tomato bed the right size. 

How much space do you need? Well, let’s talk about that too!

How Much Space Do Tomatoes Need In A Raised Bed

Each tomato plant is going to need about 18 inches of space so it can grow properly.

As you might already start to assume, you’ll quickly need more space if you plan on planting half a dozen tomato plants or more.

A gentle reminder: Your tomato plant is going to need 18 inches of space on all sides. Don’t space your tomatoes out precisely in a row, and then start a new row crammed against the ones you’ve already planted.

If you plant too many tomato plants in a raised bed or plant them too close, your plants will not have the space to grow and will start competing for nutrients. For instance, you may plant ten tomato plants, but only 6 of them will produce a crop because the others are choked out.

How Deep Should Tomatoes Be Planted In A Raised Bed

Raised beds give you extra room to plant your tomatoes deep in the soil, but how deep you plant your tomatoes will depend on how old your tomato plants are. 

Planting Tomatoes From Seeds

Tomato seeds do not need to be planted deeply into the soil. You only need to plant tomato seeds about 1/8 of an inch down into the soil. 

Anything deeper than a half-inch will limit the seed’s ability to grow properly. 

Here is a bonus tip: Put two seeds in one hole when planting tomato seeds, just in case one seed doesn’t grow.

Transplanting Seedlings

Tomato seedlings need to be planted much deeper than tomato seeds.

For most crops, you will dig a hole the size of the pot that the plant comes in, but you’ll want to dig deeper to plant your tomato seedlings. This is why a raised bed also comes in handy; you will not need to dig deep into hard earth. 

Some gardeners say that you should bury 2/3 of the tomato plant in the dirt, but I would be cautious if there are already leaves growing on the tomato plant. To give you an idea of how deep this is, only 2 inches of your 6-inch seedling will still be visible after transplanting your tomato plant. 

How Often Should You Water Tomatoes In A Raised Bed

Tomatoes in a raised bed will need to be watered more often than tomatoes planted elsewhere.

As I already mentioned, tomato plants dry out faster when they are in raised beds because raised beds receive get hotter.

When you first plant your tomato plants, you’ll need to water them daily to make sure that they start off strong. You only need to do this for the first ten days or so after planting the tomatoes.

After your tomato plants are growing well in the raised bed, your tomato plants need about 1 or 2 inches of water per week. 

Since the soil drains faster and gets hotter, keep an eye on your tomato plants to see if they need more water. If your tomato plants look yellow or wilted, give your tomatoes more water until they perk back up. 

What Is The Best Way To Harvest Tomatoes

Your tomatoes are grown and ready to be picked – all with a simple grip and twist.

Tomatoes grown in either the earth or a raised bed are all picked the same with a few simple steps:

  1. Locate the tomato that you want to pick.
  2. Firmly grip the tomato you want. Don’t grip so hard that you squish it.
  3. Hold the stem with one hand as you pull on the tomato with the other.
  4. Ta-dah! You have a homegrown tomato that is ready to be eaten.

If you planted more than two rows of tomato plants in your raised bed, you might have to get down and dirty in the raised bed to get to the tomatoes in the middle of the bed.

Be careful as you navigate the garden; you don’t want to step on or crush other tomato plants on the perimeter.