As I was saying a few days back, we use a technique where by we bury 2/3 of our tomato plants to promote root growth. This strengthens the plants, making them more heat/drought hardy and more productive. To make the process a bit easier to understand I have put together a step-by-step photographic guide so that you can see just how easy it is.
Step 1. Into my hole I like to add a shovel full of good quality compost and broken down sheep manure (maybe also some charcoal if there is some laying around).
Step 2. Remove the lower branches. The aim is to leave all foliage in the top 1/3 of the plant, removing anything else. FYI – when I calculate my thirds I measure from the bottom of the pot to the tip of the plant. You can see in the image below that I have placed the whole plant into the hole to give you an idea of how deep in the hole the plant should be. I have placed the bamboo stake across the ground to show you the level of the soil. I have left the lower branches on in this image just so you can see how many branches below the bamboo need to be removed…
Step 3.Place the seedling into the hole so that about 1/3 of the foliage is left sitting above the soil.
Step 4. Fill in your hole. Only 1/3 of the plant is left above the soil.
Step 5. Hammer in your stake or erect your frame. It’s so important that you get your stakes or frame in place when you plant for two very good reasons. You don’t want to damage the roots once the plant has started to get established as it could set the plant back. Also, once tomatoes get established they will grow very quickly. You will need to start tying them to the stakes within days, so it’s best to be prepared.
Lastly, mulch well. I usually prefer to use some kind of straw to mulch my vegetables. It’s cheap and it breaks down quickly adding more and more nutrient to the soil. At this stage I am using some old tree mulch I had down the back but very soon I will be adding thick layers of straw. When I put the straw down I sprinkle around a few handfuls of blood and bone which starts to get the straw breaking down, giving the worms something to eat. I keep adding straw throughout the season as the plants need it.
You can sprinkle potash (wood ash – the white ash that you find on top of a cold fire) around the plant to assist with the production flowers and fruit.