As the most popular fruit grown in home gardens, tomatoes are prized for their robust flavor in salads, sandwiches and sauces. Traditionally grown in rows and caged with wire or wooden enclosures, these vigorous growers often produce prolific fruit. Growing tomatoes in mounds provides loose, well-drained soil that supports healthy growth.
Test the soil in the fall or early spring to determine its needs. Fall testing allows time for soil amendments to break down and provide usable nutrients. Follow the directions with the testing kit for amending soil to balance nutrients and adjust the pH to 6.5 to 7.0.
Prepare a planting location that receives full sun for six to eight hours a day by tilling to a depth of 8 inches or more. Remove stones, roots and weed parts and rake the area smooth.
Rake soil into a large mound approximately 24 inches to 36 inches in diameter and 6 inches to 8 inches high.
Cover the mound with black or red plastic two weeks before planting time to warm the soil and control weeds. Punch holes every 6 inches to 8 inches in all directions to allow water to penetrate the plastic. Anchor the edges with stone or soil to prevent the plastic from blowing away in the wind.
Cut a large X in the center of the plastic in spring after the danger of frost has passed.
Dig deeply into the mound and set the tomato seedling through the X into the soil so that only the top 3 inches to 4 inches are above the soil. Roots form along the buried stem, creating a strong root system to support the growing plant. Firm up the soil around the base of the plant, and water deeply to saturate the soil to the root level.
Install wire tomato cages or tomato towers over the seedling and secure by pushing the pegs into the soil.
Water once or twice a week to saturate the soil, allowing it to dry slightly before watering again. One tomato plant may require 2 to 3 gallons of water per week, depending on the climate and drainage of the soil.
Apply foliar feeder labeled for tomato use on a 10- to 14-day schedule throughout the summer. Look for fertilizer high in phosphorus to promote blooming, root development and fruit set. Formulas high in nitrogen promote lush green foliage, but blooming and fruit production is inhibited.