Growing tomatoes in raised beds


I studied horticultural sciences at university and in my free time you can find me in my own patch of land, growing anything with roots. I am particularly passionate about self-sufficiency and seasonal food.

Favourite fruit: quince, cornelian cherry and blueberries
Favourite vegetables: peas, tomatoes and garlic

Like many other vegetables, tomatoes grow well in raised beds. Here, we examine the best tomato varieties for a raised bed, and provide a guide on planting tomatoes in a raised bed.

growing tomatoes in raised beds
Tomatoes can thrive in a raised bed with the right variety and soil [Photo: Marlon Boenisch/]

A raised bed will allow you to garden on difficult soil, as well as on a terrace, or any other tricky location. Basically, raised beds make gardening simpler, and they are easier on your back! Read on for everything you need to know about growing healthy and abundant tomatoes in a raised garden bed.

Can you grow tomatoes in a raised bed?

Most vegetables can grow just as well in a raised bed as in the ground. Tomato plants are no different. The most important thing for growing tomatoes in a raised bed is to select the right tomato variety and foster a good soil composition.

Building a raised bed for tomatoes

To build a raised bed, you can use any structural material you choose, be it bricks, wood, metal or durable straw bales. Just remember, to save your back, build it 70 to 100cm high. Ready-made raised beds save a lot of time and are quick to set up. However, self-built versions will allow you to design the bed to your needs and provide a personal touch to your gardening experience. If you need help deciding whether to buy a raised bed or not, read our guide on building a raised bed.

building raised garden bed bottom layer
A raised bed is made up of several layers: this bottom layer of coarse, slowly decomposable plant material, a middle layer rich in compost and a top vegetation layer [Photo: Marlon Boenisch/]

Planting tomatoes in a raised bed

Tomatoes need a warm, sunny location to produce healthy, abundant fruit. As such, make sure your raised bed is south facing, if possible. Next, you will need to fill the bed with three distinct layers of substrate.

The first of these, the top layer, in which the tomato plants will take root, should consist of a permeable, humus-rich and nutrient-rich soil. For optimal growth and healthy tomato plants, use a high-quality vegetable soil, like our peat-free Plantura Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost.

Next, for the middle layer, use organic compost. This will help store water and heat, which in turn helps decompose coarse materials and, if necessary, supplies moisture to the plant roots above. It also stimulates humus formation and soil life in the top layer. Finally, the bottom layer should be much more coarse; think branches and wood chips.

Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost, 40L
Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost, 40L
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  • Perfect for tomatoes & other vegetables such as chillies, courgettes & more
  • For strong & healthy plant growth as well as an abundant vegetable harvest
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

Tip: In the UK, it is important to acclimatise your tomato plants for 1 to 2 weeks before planting them outdoors permanently.

From the middle of May, plant your tomato plants in your raised bed, leaving around 50 to 70cm between each plant. For young bush (determinate) tomato plants, avoid planting them deeper in the soil than they were in the pot. For vine (indeterminate) varieties, you can ignore this rule. Finally, water your plants well and, if necessary, offer the young plants a short, sturdy support.

Intercropping tomatoes in a raised bead
Determinate bush tomatoes are ideal for growing tomatoes in a raised bed [Photo: Gardens by Design/]

Best tomato varieties for raised beds

Planting tall growing vine tomatoes in a raised bed is not a good idea. The plants will quickly block out the light of other crops, require strong supports and make harvesting more difficult than it needs to be. Robust and small-growing, determinate tomato varieties are much better for a raised bed. Hardy wild tomatoes that grow thick and bushy are also a great choice.

Tip: If you place your tomato plants at the edge of your raised bed, they will hang over and take up less space than they otherwise would.

Here is a list of tomato varieties that do not need to be thinned out, perfect for a raised bed!

Bush tomatoes

  • ‘Caitydid’
  • ‘Fred’s Tie Dye’
  • ‘Raspberry Rose’
  • ‘Hoffmann’s Rentita’
  • ‘Ida Gold’
  • ‘Little Red Riding Hood’
  • ‘Silver Fir’
  • ‘Tigerette’
  • ‘Tiny Tim’

Wild tomatoes

Intercropping tomatoes is possible in a raised bed. In fact, it can offer many advantages, including increased yields and pest protection. If this sounds good, why not read more about intercropping tomatoes?

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