When to plant tomatoes

csross(9)January 19, 2014

I just went to Lowes today and saw that they have tomato seedlings for sale already. Here in Riverside we normally plant tomatoes out in early March. With the unusually warm weather we've had this year, has anyone thought about putting their tomatoes in the ground earlier than normal?

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paleogardener(9)

In a normal year this is totally the wrong time to plant tomatoes. At best they will be successful with the unseasonal temps. Keep in mind we do still have 2 months of winter left & frost is still possible. Either way it will be a learning experience. I have been sowing seeds of things I wouldn't normally sow until March or April. The weather is permitting so why not? It feels like to me the chance for frost diminishes with each warm day passing.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 1:28PM
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MrClint

I have tomatoes and zucchini growing through the Winter in EarthBoxes, so this warm weather serves them well. Spring toms will be planted out around St. Patrick's Day as usual.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 7:41PM
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vall3fam(9 CentralCA)

I would wait until March when threat of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up. Lowes and others love to bring the veggies out early so people can buy them, plant them, watch them get killed with frost, then come back and buy some more! Great marketing idea!

Elaine

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 10:05PM
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CathyCA SoCal(10)

I am in coastal So Cal and decided to plant a few tomato plants later this week. They will be in self watering containers on wheels that I can move around to follow the sun and protect them from wind and cold if need be. It could end up being too early but we never get frost here (knock on wood) and the temperatures have not been going lower than 48 at night. I will wait until April to plant in ground tomatoes.

It's an experiment, wish me luck.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 11:23PM
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publickman

I have Roma, Cherry, and Big Boy tomato plants all with ripe tomatoes and green ones getting ripe right now. I have one other plant that has green tomatoes, but they are beginning to split and may not do too well, but the Romas and Cherries are doing fine and are prolific. In the past I've had the best luck with cherry tomatoes in the winter, but this year the Romas are doing even better. I'm also in coast SoCal and do not have frost, although I have noticed that parts of my yard are warmer than others, now that I have a laser thermometer.

I grow tomatoes in large pots next to the house - my soil in the back yard is too poor to grow much of anything, and so most of my plants are in pots or wine barrels. I've had good luck with bananas and heliconias in the ground, however.

Lars

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 5:56PM
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MrClint

vall3fam, the big box stores stock tomato seedlings in the Winter for the reasons you stated, and also because some of us push the envelope. Hey, if this 80* weather continues, I may shoehorn in a few early starts myself.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 11:56PM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

I have a bunch of tomatoes that survived the december cold snap and me being away for 6 weeks.

I'm still picking a few cherries here and there.

More importantly, they're flowering, and a couple have new green fruit on them already.

One of my long-term goals is to breed frost-tolerant tomatoes. I'm not sure if I got lucky or unlucky with this weather. Anyway, I definitely have seeds to go in the breeding pool.

Tomatoes are so easy to grow from seed, I don't bother with buying starts. But there's plenty to be said for getting a jump on tomato season.

If you go for some early starts, have a plan to protect them if a cold spell comes our way. Just the tiniest bit of protection can make a huge difference.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 7:09PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I would love to start some seeds. I have root riot cubes, but once something roots, those need to be planted out quickly, and last night the turbines came on in the citrus orchards in the valley below. That indicates near freezing temps. It's a tad warmer up here on our hill, but not that much, so I think I'm voting for March.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 10:06AM
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