Posted on May 11, 2017 by Neil Ungerleider


Photo:  By tooony - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Come May, many tomato gardeners are anxious to plant in hopes of an early crop of red, ripe fruit.

But when is the right time to plant?  It depends, of course, on where you live and the spring weather conditions, but according to, there are a few guidelines that can help.

In many cases, planting too early is not going to insure an earlier crop. Not only can you expose them to the danger of a late frost, tomatoes don’t grow well in colder weather.

Here’s why:

Tomatoes are warm weather plants and will not grow in temperatures below 50 degrees.

“The first sign that it is the proper planting time for tomatoes is when the night time temperature stays consistently above 50 F.,” posted on its website.  In fact, tomato plants will not set fruit until the night time temperature reaches 55 F.

The second thing to check is soil temperature.  Tomatoes won’t thrive until the soil temperature is 60 F.

“A quick and easy way to tell if the soil is warm enough for planting tomato plants is to thrust a finger in the soil. If you cannot keep your finger all the way in the soil for a full minute without feeling uncomfortable, the soil is most likely too cold for planting tomatoes.”

Most tomato varieties need 100 days to fully mature, but there are others that only need 50-60 days. Keep that in mind, if you are planting tomato plants late in the season.

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