Whether you grow your tomato plants from seeds indoors yourself or purchase the seedlings from a local nursery, the time will come to transplant your growing tomatoes outside and into the garden. Wait until after all spring danger of frost has passed in your area because tomatoes do not tolerate freezes well. When purchasing seedlings from a nursery, look for strong plants with healthy leaves that are at least 8 inches tall. These have a better chance of survival and produce healthier fruit.
Harden off the seedlings so they don't experience shock once transplanted outside. Place them outside in a protected area for two hours on the first day. Add another hour onto the time outside until they are spending the entire day outside at two weeks.
Prepare the garden bed for planting. Choose a well-drained bed in an area that receives full sun. With your shovel, work in 2 to 3 inches of compost to improve drainage.
Dig planting holes 4 inches deep and 4 feet apart. Space rows 4 to 4 feet apart.
Remove each seedling from its pot. Loosen the roots on the bottom of the root ball gently with your fingertips.
Set the seedling in the planting hole. Deepen the hole as needed so the soil surface sets 4 to 5 inches beneath the first set of leaves. Fill in the hole and firm lightly.
Water in the tomato plant well. Maintain soil moisture in the garden at all times, providing approximately 2 quarts of water a day.
Add an organic mulch such as wood chips around each tomato seedlings. Use 2 to 3 inches of mulch to preserve soil moisture and prevent weeds.