High-Altitude Tomato Growing

Overview

Tomatoes need a long, warm growing season. Gardeners who live in high altitudes may find they have their work cut out for them to be able to enjoy fresh tomatoes during the summer. Growing tomatoes in high altitudes depends on various factors, including the type of tomato chosen, location and amount of warmth provided. There are several varieties that have shorter growing times, 60 to 65 days, compared with others that may require up to 75 to 90 days. Varieties to try include, Goliath, Roma, Better Bush and Champion.

Step 1

Select a location that will receive full sun all day long to provide enough sunlight for your tomatoes. Walls, buildings and rocks radiate heat, allowing the plants to absorb extra warmth and prompting faster growth.

Step 2

Shovel the soil as soon as the ground is workable, which may be late spring in many high-altitude locations. Loosen the soil and add compost to create a well-draining soil and add necessary nutrients to help the roots become established faster.

Step 3

Create raised furrows to plant the tomatoes in, allowing the soil to stay warmer. Make the furrows approximately 1 foot high and leave 3 to 4 inches in between furrows. Dig a hole for each plant about three times as deep as the root ball is high and twice as wide. Place the holes about 2 feet apart.

Step 4

Lay a piece of black plastic mulching over each raised furrow. Cut an X in the plastic over each hole. The black plastic will absorb more heat from the sun, creating warmer soil which in turn helps the plants to grow faster in high altitudes.

Step 5

Remove all of the lower leaves from the tomato stem, leaving only one to two sets of leaves at the top of the stem. Place a tomato plant down through the plastic mulching into the hole. Plant deeply so the top set of leaves is directly above the ground's surface. Fill in each hole with dirt and tamp down firmly around the base of each plant.

Step 6

Water the tomatoes well after planting, using a soaker hose. Position it so the water is going down through the slits in the black plastic mulching. Keep the soil consistently moist and water two to three times per week.

Step 7

Use wooden stakes to hold the tomato plants upright as they grow and bend under the weight of the fruit. Place a stake about 3 inches away from each plant and use strips of old stockings to tie the plants to the stakes. Retie as the plant grows.

Step 8

Add a liquid, balanced fertilizer, 15-15-15, about two weeks after planting. Apply another application once the plants begin to flower and one more when the fruit appears.

Step 9

Cover loosely with a burlap sack if the temperatures are expected to drop below 32 degrees F at night. Remove the burlap during the day to allow the plant to get plenty of sunlight.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not water tomato plants with an overhead sprinkler. Keep the foliage dry, reducing the spread of disease and mold.

Things You'll Need

  • Tomato plants
  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Black plastic mulch
  • Knife
  • Soaker hose
  • Fertilizer
  • Stakes
  • Burlap (optional)

References

  • Montana State University Extension: Growing Tomatoes In Montana
  • Oregon State University Extension: Growing Your Own
Keywords: high altitude tomatoes, growing tomatoes, grow tomatoes

About this Author

Amy Madtson resides in southern Oregon and has been writing for Demand Studios since 2008, focusing on health and gardening for websites such as eHow and GardenGuides. Madtson has an Associate of Arts in business from Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Washington. She holds a childbirth educator certification and a one-year midwifery completion certificate.