All Posts   Posted:   May 1, 2017 by Nicole Forbes - Education Director

After we have had a few warm, dry spring days – gardeners usually begin thinking about planting tomatoes. Although we seem to be finally warming up and seeing more sun breaks than showers it is still a little early to put unprotected tomato plants in the ground. To bide the time, make a list of the varieties you want to grow this year and work to prepare your soil for planting. Each year, in preparation for planting, you'll want to layer organic amendments like compost, worm castings, lime, and kelp meal on top of your existing garden soil. When it is time, make a hole and plant through the layers and finish off with a nice thick layer of mulch.

So, how do we confidently know when we should put our tomatoes in the ground? There are several ‘benchmarks’ that gardeners use to choose the ideal planting time. By calendar date (many local experts agree on Mother’s Day or later), watch the weather (tomatoes prefer average nighttime temperatures to be in the 50’s), take your soil’s temperature (young tomato plants ideal soil temperature is 60 degrees or warmer; use a soil thermometer to check and wait to plant until you have had at least 5 consecutive days of 60-degree soil). To be certain, one could wait for all three of these factors to combine creating the trifecta of ideal conditions for planting. Today, the soil thermometer reads 53 degrees in the ground & the 10-day forecast shows most nights in the mid to high 40’s with a few low 50’s. The sunny days we are predicted to get this week will help warm up my soil but you will still want to wait awhile before planting in the ground (it is hard to be patient… I already have begun to ‘collect’ some plants and am keeping them in a protected area on my back porch).

Once planting conditions are optimal, plant with a little extra care by stripping off some of the lower leaves and planting the plant deeper than the current soil level to encourage a larger root system. In the bottom of the hole, before the tomato goes in, it is wise to add a nutrient ‘package’ to fortify with calcium to avoid blossom-end rot in your developing fruit.

Our recipe for planting the best tomatoes (peppers too) is as follows:

  • ½ cup bone meal 
  • ½ cup dolomite lime
  • ¼ cup G&B Tomato, vegetable & herb fertilizer
  • One shovel-full of Bumper Crop organic soil fertilizer
  • 2 hands-full of Wormgro worm castings
  • Mix all ingredients together in bottom of the hole and water well after planting.

Considering the cold, wet spring we have had, this may be a good year to plant some short-season, more cold-tolerant tomato varieties to ensure a successful crop.

  • ‘Early Girl’ has always been a favorite but keep your eyes out for ‘New Girl’, an improvement on the old standard with better flavor and increased disease resistance; ‘New Girl’ is a relatively new hybrid so it may be found in limited quantities this year.
  • Eastern European heirloom varieties can be more cold tolerant and short-season; ‘Moskovich’ is a variety that won high marks in our 2016 tomato tasting event. ‘Stupice’ and ‘Bloody Butcher’ are two other great varieties to try.
  • Cherry tomatoes are often a safe-bet for an early-ripening, productive plant. One of the most popular cherry-types is ‘Sungold’ – almost always a winner in our tasting events; sweet and juicy! A new, improved version of ‘Sungold’ is ‘Sunsugar’ which has all the great qualities of ‘Sungold’ but has crack-resistant fruit.
  • Other heirloom varieties that received high praise in our 2016 tasting include: ‘Mortgage Lifter’, ‘Brandywine’, and ‘Amana Orange’.

Don't miss our annual Tomato Tasting event the second weekend of September where you can sample about 50 different varieties grown by one of our owners, David Snodgrass, to choose which ones to plant for yourself next year; check our event page for details & updates.

After we have had a few warm, dry spring days – gardeners usually begin thinking about planting tomatoes. Although we seem to be finally warming up and seeing more sun breaks than showers it is still a little early to put unprotected tomato plants in the ground. To bide the time, make a list of the varieties you want to grow this year and work to prepare your soil for planting. Each year, in preparation for planting, you'll want to layer organic amendments like compost, worm castings, lime, and kelp meal on top of your existing garden soil. When it is time, make a hole and plant through the layers and finish off with a nice thick layer of mulch.

So, how do we confidently know when we should put our tomatoes in the ground? There are several ‘benchmarks’ that gardeners use to choose the ideal planting time. By calendar date (many local experts agree on Mother’s Day or later), watch the weather (tomatoes prefer average nighttime temperatures to be in the 50’s), take your soil’s temperature (young tomato plants ideal soil temperature is 60 degrees or warmer; use a soil thermometer to check and wait to plant until you have had at least 5 consecutive days of 60-degree soil). To be certain, one could wait for all three of these factors to combine creating the trifecta of ideal conditions for planting. Today, the soil thermometer reads 53 degrees in the ground & the 10-day forecast shows most nights in the mid to high 40’s with a few low 50’s. The sunny days we are predicted to get this week will help warm up my soil but you will still want to wait awhile before planting in the ground (it is hard to be patient… I already have begun to ‘collect’ some plants and am keeping them in a protected area on my back porch).

Once planting conditions are optimal, plant with a little extra care by stripping off some of the lower leaves and planting the plant deeper than the current soil level to encourage a larger root system. In the bottom of the hole, before the tomato goes in, it is wise to add a nutrient ‘package’ to fortify with calcium to avoid blossom-end rot in your developing fruit.

Our recipe for planting the best tomatoes (peppers too) is as follows:

  • ½ cup bone meal 
  • ½ cup dolomite lime
  • ¼ cup G&B Tomato, vegetable & herb fertilizer
  • One shovel-full of Bumper Crop organic soil fertilizer
  • 2 hands-full of Wormgro worm castings
  • Mix all ingredients together in bottom of the hole and water well after planting.

Considering the cold, wet spring we have had, this may be a good year to plant some short-season, more cold-tolerant tomato varieties to ensure a successful crop.

  • ‘Early Girl’ has always been a favorite but keep your eyes out for ‘New Girl’, an improvement on the old standard with better flavor and increased disease resistance; ‘New Girl’ is a relatively new hybrid so it may be found in limited quantities this year.
  • Eastern European heirloom varieties can be more cold tolerant and short-season; ‘Moskovich’ is a variety that won high marks in our 2016 tomato tasting event. ‘Stupice’ and ‘Bloody Butcher’ are two other great varieties to try.
  • Cherry tomatoes are often a safe-bet for an early-ripening, productive plant. One of the most popular cherry-types is ‘Sungold’ – almost always a winner in our tasting events; sweet and juicy! A new, improved version of ‘Sungold’ is ‘Sunsugar’ which has all the great qualities of ‘Sungold’ but has crack-resistant fruit.
  • Other heirloom varieties that received high praise in our 2016 tasting include: ‘Mortgage Lifter’, ‘Brandywine’, and ‘Amana Orange’.

Don't miss our annual Tomato Tasting event the second weekend of September where you can sample about 50 different varieties grown by one of our owners, David Snodgrass, to choose which ones to plant for yourself next year; check our event page for details & updates.