I think mine do not have a really good root system. I have planted them deep sideways before, but get lazy and I will try it next year and the watering.@Gardening with Rabbits, I am pretty sure that your tomato problems were weather related.
Check out the video on Post #550 about tomato problems.
I think that thoroughly watering when transplanting is crucial. I soaked my 24 tomatoes for 2 weeks straight, with a soaker hose,1 hr/day, and drained a LOT of my cistern doing it, and they developed such good roots that the drought afterwards didn't phase them.
Up potting before transplanting works wells, too. Save those really big pots like when you buy a tree bc it really helps with tomatoes.
I have had several years of tomatoes that didn't need any watering once they were established, and I can prove the root system at the end of the season when I pull them out.
They remind me of the 8 yews that used to grow S side of the garage, and how I dug deep and finally dislodged each one when I was able to cut their tap roots. I dunno how deep the roots went, but they never grew back to challenge me.
I believe that the key is having a very good root system.
This week's Mid American Gardener expert, Kelly Alsup was talking about how crucial it is to develop good roots on succulents, and that you shouldn't transplant THEM to a bigger pot for almost a full year.
Vegetables (annual Anything) wants to grow fast, but you end up watering the dirt only if the roots aren't big enough and deep enough..
I (almost) always plant mine full stem up to the top leaves.
Several tomatoes this year sat for weeks after transplant, and they looked very Good, just not any bigger.
They were growing good roots before taking off, mostly straight up (before the sprawl and tying up to the fencing.)
I have about 8-9 that I started from seeds saved and they are growing on the south side of my cistern. I expect some fruit, planted late, but mostly I intend to save their seeds for 2023, so it's ok for them to sprawl.
Thx for the support!!don't know how to be fully integrated into the modern world, Ducks'! Let's just say that impediments like limp muscles in a leg are best overcome. Good Luck with that exercise and therapy!
climbing out of the rabbit hole and looking again at the tomatillos