Best Time to Plant Tomatoes

Tomatoes are everyone’s favorite garden plant. A broad range of tomato varieties is available today, from tiny cherry tomatoes to large beefsteak tomatoes. It is a subtropical fruit that originates from Central and South America and grows best in the warm temperatures of the summer season.

Time is a very crucial factor for the best growth and development of any vegetable crop. Many people wonder when to grow tomatoes in their garden, well, that depends on your local climatic conditions as this warm-season vegetable crop does not tolerate frost. 

Our article covers all the necessary information you need to know for the best planting time to grow your tomatoes successfully.

When to Plant Tomato Seeds

  1. The last frost date of spring and the first frost date of winter define the type of tomato that is suitable for growing and thriving in your growing zone.
  2. First, you need to calculate the duration between last and first frost dates of your area, and then select such tomato varieties that will produce delicious fruits within that duration.
  3. Information is provided on the seed packets or with commercially produced tomato seedlings, about the days to maturity of every variety.
  4. You can plant tomato seeds indoors in seed trays, pots or containers from January to March (before summer arrives).
  5. The temperature of the compost or growing media should be approximately 70 ºF (22 ºC) for the seeds to germinate.
  6. Young tender seedlings also need to be kept in a warm environment until early Summer.

When to Transplant Seedlings

  1. You can plant tomato seeds or transplant its seedlings outside into your vegetable garden when summer starts, depending on your local climatic conditions.
  2. Make sure the frost has been over in your area before planting outside.
  3. When the nighttime temperature is consistently 50 ºF (10 ºC) or above, it is the best time to shift delicate seedlings or plant seeds outside.
  4. The second meaningful sign for knowing when to plant or transplant your tomatoes outdoors is the temperature of your garden soil. 
  5. Preferably, the soil temperature in the range of 60 to 62 ºF (15-17 ºC) is considered ideal for planting them outside in your vegetable garden.
  6. In many areas, the soil is not warm enough until April or May, but it depends on where you live.
  7. A fast and easy way to determine either the soil is warm enough for transplanting tomato seedlings is to put your finger in the soil. If you can keep your finger into the soil for a minute or two without feeling uncomfortable, your soil is ready to plant tomatoes.
  8. Of course, you can also use a soil thermometer for accurate determination.

Hardening Off

  1. Before planting your younger tomato seedlings, first, harden them off for a high survival rate.
  2. For this, initially put your seedling trays or containers in a shady outdoor place during the daytime for a few hours.
  3. Gradually increase the time until after a week or two, you can leave them outside all night.

Conclusion

  1. Tomatoes are a simple, easy to grow, and incredibly productive garden vegetable.
  2. Planting time is the most crucial factor for the success of this delicious garden crop.
  3. You can plant its seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks earlier before the last frost.
  4. 4.   Perfect time for planting seeds or transplanting seedlings outdoors is when the night temperature is 50 ºF (10 ºC), and soil temperature is 60 ºF (15 ºC), and frost is entirely over.
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