All Posts   Posted:   April 24, 2018 by Nicole Forbes - Dennis' 7 Dees 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, plant through the layers, and finish off with a nice thick layer of mulch.
 

So, how do we confidently know when to put our tomatoes in the ground? There are several "benchmarks" that gardeners use to choose the ideal planting time:

  • Calendar date (many local experts agree on Mother’s Day or later)
  • Weather (tomatoes prefer average nighttime temps to be in the 50s)
  • Soil 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)

One could wait for all three of these factors to combine, creating the trifecta of ideal conditions for planting. Once planting conditions are ideal, plant with a little extra care by stripping off some of the lower leaves and planting 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 and other nutrients to optimize performance and avoid blossom-end rot in your developing fruit.

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

Here are some short-season, more cold-tolerant tomato varieties to ensure a successful crop after a cold and wet spring.

  • 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.
  • 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 newer, 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.

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, plant through the layers, and finish off with a nice thick layer of mulch.
 

So, how do we confidently know when to put our tomatoes in the ground? There are several "benchmarks" that gardeners use to choose the ideal planting time:

  • Calendar date (many local experts agree on Mother’s Day or later)
  • Weather (tomatoes prefer average nighttime temps to be in the 50s)
  • Soil 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)

One could wait for all three of these factors to combine, creating the trifecta of ideal conditions for planting. Once planting conditions are ideal, plant with a little extra care by stripping off some of the lower leaves and planting 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 and other nutrients to optimize performance and avoid blossom-end rot in your developing fruit.

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

Here are some short-season, more cold-tolerant tomato varieties to ensure a successful crop after a cold and wet spring.

  • 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.
  • 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 newer, 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.