When to Plant Tomatoes?

I get asked all the time for advice on when the perfect time is to plant tomatoes so I thought I would share with all of you what I've learned. A lot of gardening sites will give you a specific date, like May 5, but unfortunately it isnt that easy. There are factors to take into account such as are you planting tomatoes from seeds or are you using purchased seedlings? What part of the country do you live in? Are you planting short season or longer growing varieties? All of these questions must be answered before you can decide on the best time to plant tomatoes.
The first thing to remember is that tomatoes are very fragile and thrive in warm weather. They need night time temperatures to stay at least above 50 and should never, ever be exposed to frost. If the plants do manage to survive a frosty night, the growth of your plant will be slowed significantly. Tomatoes also need on average about 8-10 hours of direct sunlight per day. For most areas of the country, that means you should plant your seeds in late spring or plant your seedlings in early summer.
If you decide to grow your tomatoes from seeds rather than buying an established plant from your local home improvement store, you will need to check your localitys weather patterns to determine the latest expected frost dates for the area. You can check weather.com or the Farmers Almanac for the information. Once youve determined the correct date range, seeds should be started indoors approximately 6-8 weeks prior. Keep your seeds in a warm, well-lit place. Once the plants reach 6in -8in tall and youve past the last expected frost date, go ahead and plant them outdoors.
Most varieties of tomato plants will start producing fruit within 65-80 days. Therefore if you have a slow growing variety and you set your plants out around May 10, you will be able to harvest around early to mid-August. If you live in a Southern state, you could plant tomato crops as late as August and still have a great harvest because those states dont fall below freezing until late November.
As you understand now, there is no one right answer for the best planting times for tomatoes. Just remember that your plant needs night time temperatures of at least fifty degrees and 8-10 hours of sunlight per day. Once youve determined the constraints for your geographic area, go ahead and plant as many waves of tomato crops as you want.
Just FYI - I found out all this information from an ebook I bought at: simple-organic-gardening.com. Its awesome if youre new to gardening.
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You could ask your nursery when to plant. If your plants froze, they'd lose a customer. No mention here of row covers to protect seedlings.

That's odd. My tomatoes were getting too big in the house so I put them outside at mid-March. These were Gold Medal, Glacier, Striped German, Koralic, Marmand, Brandywine, Blondkopfchen, Green Zebra, Hawiian Pineapple, Stupice, Caspian Pink, and Yellow Pear. Avg. night time temp for April was 40F. Avg. daytime temp was 64F, and by the beginning of May the tomatoes were in flower, and a Stupice had set fruit. My observations seem to be at cross purposes to your information.

My tomatoes were getting 5-6 hr. of full sun, plus another 2-3hr. of dappled sun.

You will need a source of sunlight for you plants to grow. They won't grow on the shelf out of sunlight.

Uh, don't need to plant waves of indeterminate tomatoes. They will keep producing as long as they have warmth, sunlight, water, and nutrition.

Let's see, you found out "there are factors to take into account such as are you planting tomatoes from seeds or are you using purchased seedlings? What part of the country do you live in? Are you planting short season or longer growing varieties? All of these questions must be answered before you can decide on the best time to plant tomatoes." So you found out you need to learn what you are doing before you do it. Is that right?
My suggestion is that until you learn more, just ask your nursery.
You found out not to let your tomatoes freeze. That's important but . . . duh.
You found out that "tomatoes also need on average about 8-10 hours of direct sunlight per day." Really? I'm lucky around the Summer Solstice to get 7 hr/day with 3 more hours of dappled or indirect sunlight. By your figuring, I can't grow tomatoes.
You found, "Once the plants reach 6in -8in tall and youve past the last expected frost date, go ahead and plant them outdoors." If them "awesome ebooks" knew about row covers, you could have planted in advance of the last frost.
You found that "Most varieties of tomato plants will start producing fruit within 65-80 days." :O)) There's a knee slapper for ya. What a hoot.;O)) You "may" get tomatoes in 65-80 days, if you plant starts (not seeds) in ideal situations, and have properly prepared the soil, provided some type of support for the vines, and fed and watered them correctly. What does your awesome ebook say about those requirements?
Hang around here kid, and we'll teach ya how to grow, whatever you want to grow for free, but in the mean time you may want to go back to simple-organic-gardening.com., and see if you can't get your money back.
--
- Billy
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the
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Bwaaaaaa ha ha ha ha! Good one Billy :)
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Erika Meissner wrote: <snip>

Do you get all of your sales from yourself?
http://who.godaddy.com/WhoIs.aspx?domain=simple-organic-gardening.com&prog_id=godaddy
Administrative Contact: Meissner, Erika snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com M&C Holdings 215 W Lava Falls Meridian, Idaho 83646 United States 208-310-9729
PS. I loved Billy's treatment of this spammer.
(Trim out google if you respond)
Jeff
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LOL! Well played.
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