when is it safe to plant tomatoes?

kygirl99April 24, 2007

I'm still trying to get used to planting in zone 6 vs. my previous home in zone 9. it's definitely a change in planting times, especially since we only had frost maybe once or twice a year, if that, in my old so. calif. home!

anyway, when is it safe to plant tomatoes? do I really need to wait until mid-may? I'm so tempted to plant now, but don't want the plants to be ruined and have slow growth from the cold ground. They had nice 2-gal tomato plants at one nursery we visited yesterday and I'd love to take advantage if it wouldn't be a mistake.

I don't have a greenhouse setup yet since we just moved into our newly built house. I will have a greenhouse next year, but not just yet...


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kydaylilylady(z6 KY)

Yes, you do need to wait until mid May, unless you want to take a chance and maybe have to cover them. And even then it's an average. A few years ago I planted almost 100 tomato plants after May 10, our usual frost free date. Around the 15th I was rounding up every 5 gallon bucket on the farm to cover those rascals. Luckily Mom and Dad still milked and there were enough buckets around to cover everything.

One or two tomatoes...go ahead, you can cover them if you need to. Over 200 plants this year, I'm waiting.

Squash, cucumbers, beans- go ahead and plant them now. The ground should be warm enough to keep the seed from rotting and by the time they sprout we should be in the fairly safe realm. I usually plant winter squash around the first to middle of June. First crop of potatoes should have been in the ground beginning March 15. Second crop around the first of July. Last crop of beans, squash, etc., first of August. Fall turnips and greens first of August. Transplants of cabbage and peas about that time too.

Happy planting,

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 12:20PM
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thanks for all the time schedules, janet. that's a huge help. I bought a book on when to plant in tenn and ky but it doesn't cover all the details.

I am late on my potatoes. but that's because we just moved into our house. I asked my dad, who grew up on a farm, and he said it's okay to go ahead and do them now. so I will give it a shot.

thanks again for all the info!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 3:10PM
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I'm in zone 5b (almost 6a) and I just couldn't take it and planted some herbs today. I'm on vacation this week and I just never have any time to do gardening so I cracked. Our last frost date is something like May 9 or 10th and I know I shouldn't have put basil in the ground but I only did a 10 ft herb garden and if things get cold hopefully I can get it covered. I did resist putting my tomatoes in and I have no idea why I thought they were any different than the other things I planted today. I'm only putting in about 3-4 tomatoe plants so I guess because its only going to take a few minutes to plant them, I'll just do it next weekend. Its just so hard to wait. I agree with Janet that if its only a few plants, I don't think its a big deal.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 10:59PM
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It may be O.K. to plant now. I check the 10 day forecast on Yahoo and see what they say about temperatures. I think we are clear to plant. I put in some annuals within the past two days.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 11:28AM
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I guess this is early planting confession time. I too am guilty. This week I've planted a couple of tomatoes, some peppers and basil, along with winter-sown larkspur and lupine babies. I just couldn't wait any longer either! By the way, when can I expect larkspur & lupines to bloom here?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 1:17PM
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I had a field day planting yesterday. Literally! I planted rosemary, then realized that the package said that yes, it was safe to plant them 10 weeks before the last frost IF you sow them indoors! Ooops!

So I planted those, and radishes, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, arugula and green onions. I planted my four varieties of potatoes on Tuesday - blue, red, fingerling and white. It was fun!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 1:39PM
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I'm in Elizabethtown and have 29 tomato plants outside...They've been out before the cold snap, brought in for that and put back out a week and a half or so ago. They are thriving and taking off, all at least 2 foot tall now. All of my plants are doing beautifully. I even had to pinch blossoms off several tomato plants already. I see no harm in having your plants outside, so long as you've hardened them off properly.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2007 at 9:47AM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

I made the mistake of wrapping clear plastic around one of my tomato cages to protect the one largest, from-seed plant of my batch. Well when it got into the 80s here in Central KY Monday and Tuesday it cooked the stem of the plant right in half. The leaves are a shriveled mess. There's no moisture left in the twisted, completely collapsed stem. This former 7" tall plant is a golf ball size swashed pile of dead tomato plant. Ooooops

I am trying to harden off the remainder of the plants. I guess to be completely safe I need to wait til May 10th. I'll try to harden an hour or so each day until then. I bought a Mr. Stripey that has a very thick stem and planted him at the same time. He's doing very well outside. My guys have some growing up and adjustment to do I guess.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 9:15PM
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I have a related question concerning my container tomato plants. I'm new to gardening but have been learning a lot lately from a variety of sources. I'm wondering at this point how often they'll need water, and if I need to cut them back at all?

Also, I've got lettuce in containers as well. I am afraid it'll be getting too hot to leave them outside but I fear there's no good place to put them inside, if they need direct sun. Any advice?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 2:14PM
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kydaylilylady(z6 KY)

Tomatoes prefer a good deal of water. An inch per week would be ideal in field conditions. Watering your pots will depend upon the size of the pot and what type of soil that you have in it. A quick draining soil will require watering more ofter. If you have those water absorbing crystals in it you may not have to water as often. Sometimes, in the middle of summer you'll find yourself watering daily. I think you'll just have to use your judgement. Fortunately, tomatoes can take a lot of water and unless you leave them sitting in a bucket of water they'll probably take however much you give them just fine.

As to cutting back a tomato, I think if your container plant gets out of control you could nip the tip out of your plant. This would make the side suckers develop more quickly and you could keep your plant bushier. You will, however decrease your quantity of tomatoes harvested.

With your lettuce, it's a cooler season crop and doesn't like hot weather. You can grow it under light shade in the form of row covers, under dappled shade or put on a large airy porch. Lettuce grown late in the season has a tendancy to get bitter when the weather gets extremely hot. It also has the tendancy to bolt at that point.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 8:28AM
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