The husband of a friend of mine is a serious gardener with years and years of experience, and I always use his transplant method for tomatoes.  This formala is like a Cook’s Illustrated recipe – just do exactly what it says, don’t deviate from the plan, and you’ll get a great result.

Peter’s Perfect Tomatoes

When you transplant into your garden do the following:

  1. Dig a hole as deep as the seedling height and twice as wide as widest set of leaves.
  2. Fill the hole 1/2 way with a 50/50 combination of peat moss and composted manure.
  3. Water the mix and make a thick mud.  The water should contain a transplant fertilizer (organic or chemical – your choice)
  4. Plant the seedling in the mud and bury it past the original seedling leaves.  The tomato will sprout new roots from the buried stem.
  5. Water as required for the rest of the summer but do not fertilize again – the tomato has everything it will need for the entire season.

Your tomatoes will go gangbusters – trust me!  Heirlooms in particular really like it.