Hardening off Tomatos

I have heard in the past that one shouldn't plant tomatos in ground until night time temperatures are 50 and above. I've heard that under 50 temps stunt the growth of the tomatos the rest of the season. Yet I see nurseries and places like Home Depot that have their plants outside when temperatures are still in the 50's or 60's during the day, and well below 50 at night and they don't seem to have problems. I've always held off until the end of May here in Syracuse (region 5) to plant my tomatos but as long as it's not near freezing at night, should it matter?
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The problem is soil temperature. Many folks put thier plants in the ground too early and wonder why they just sit there and sulk, while those of us who wait till the soil warms up catch and pass them. Lots of tomato plants are lost at retailers, but they don't have to worry, they are not growing them out. In all fairness tho, none of them keep thier tomato and like plants outside at night in this area. Air temps down to 32 don't bother them but cold feet does.
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FDR wrote:

If you are in Syracuse, you may know where Tupper Lake is (Drive up to Watertown then turn northeast and go 2 more hours). Up here, our normal low temperature during the hottest part of the summer (mid July) is 52 degrees. All it takes is a night 3 degrees below average and we are into the 40s again. I always smile when I read directions that say to hold off planting out tomatoes until the nights are sure to stay above 50. When would that be here? Anyway, I just plant them out the first week in June unless that week is extremely cold or wet. If our summer is very cool, I don't get a ton of tomatoes and they come late. If the summer is a little warmer, I do pretty well. By the way, there's no law that says you have to plant them all out the same week. You could plant some out at your usual time and hold a few for a week or two and see what happens. If you do that for a few years, you will find out what really works in your location.
Steve
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I'm in zone 5 in Southern Ontario. The past 3 years, I've put out a third to a half of my tomato plants earlier than our projected last frost when the air and soil temps have been nice and warm for several days. Then I save the rest to put out about a week after the last frost date. The early plants do seem to grow up quicker than the later ones, but I've not noticed any significant difference in fruit production bewteen the two groups. I put in about 2 dozen plants total, each year.
Andrew
Steve wrote:

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Andrew Ward wrote:

Nice name!
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Andrew Ward wrote:

I thought you were talking to yourself there for a minute.
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"I have heard in the past that one shouldn't plant tomatos in ground until night time temperatures are 50 and above. I've heard that under 50 temps stunt the growth of the tomatos the rest of the season. Yet I see nurseries and places like Home Depot that have their plants outside when temperatures are still in the 50's or 60's during the day, and well below 50 at night and they don't seem to have problems.
"I've always held off until the end of May here in Syracuse (region 5) to plant my tomatos but as long as it's not near freezing at night, should it matter?"
Tomats, along with other nightshades, won/t do their best until the soil warms. Wait until the season-normal minimum temperature is at least 55F (13C). If you set them out earlier, they/ll just stand there; arms spread wide welcoming harmful bugs and disease.
As for Home Despot; they/re in the business of selling you stuff. They couldn/t care less if the time/s not right for setting out the plants you bought from them. You might be better off buying your bedding plants from the local feed 'n seed or a family-run garden center.
Remember - All sales are final. User assumes all risk.
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