Anyone planted tomatoes yet?

pjdsr(z7 VA)April 10, 2006

I have been hardening off my plants and am anxious to get them in the ground with this great warm spell just beginning. I know average frost date is April 10-26, but last year we did not have a frost in April. My plants are outgrowing their pots and starting to topple over. Anyone else chancing it yet?

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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

Not until May as I have not prepared the veggie garden yet.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 1:23AM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Check your soil temperature. I put row cover & plastic out last month and the soil beneath is now 72*F at 4". Will be transplanting soon with plastic or row cover around the cage that can be pulled up if/when the temps dip again.

I'm late getting stuff done in the garden this year... between age slowing me down and the energy expended at office (we're doing our regular work -and this is busy season- + packing to move the office to a new location), too often I've been coming home and just collapsing instead getting out into the garden. Sigh.

Anyway, judge by the soil temperature instead of the calendar; and keep the row cover handy.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 7:00AM
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You never know, you could get a cold day like we had last week. I have heard that the last frost date for at least Fairfax county is May 15th. Am I correct??

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 7:09AM
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hscsusiq(z7 VA)

I have some 'Coldset' tomatoes that I might try, all wrapped up, on black landscape cloth. If tomatoes, roots or foliage, get below 50F, they are said to lower the production for their lives. Might be worth it for an early tomato! However the tiny ones I put out in June last year outstripped the larger ones I put out in May. My greenhouse tomatoes are 12' tall in 6' pots. I'm thinking about putting some in buckets, but they have enough root room for now. I might cut them back though. Someone could root the tops.

Here is a link that might be useful: Virginia Country Life

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 7:43AM
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harryvetch(Cent.VA/ Zone 7)

Planted my "early" tomatoes in Richmond on March 27th protected by Wall O Waters, they are looking great. Have used WOWs for about 15 years, have never lost a plant due to frost. Plan on planting my main season tomatoes around the last of the month.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 12:47PM
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pjdsr(z7 VA)

harryvetch, are they growing? The above discussion suggests they would just be sitting there in soil too cool to support much growth.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 2:57PM
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pjdsr(z7 VA)

Last night's low temp in my raised bed was 50.9*F at about 3 inches. I might do some experimental planting this weekend.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 11:54AM
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harryvetch(Cent.VA/ Zone 7)

They are actually growing very well. This has been an unusually warm spring. This sounds like an exaggeration, or downright lie, but my Sun Golds that I planted 16 days ago with the WOWs are now right at 12 inches, and they developed their first set of flowers, I would guess they are a week away from blooming. The Sun Golds that I started the very same day and remain in 6-packs, are about 7 inches tall and much less advanced in overall developement. One thing to remember, the ones in the ground have had the soil amended with some compost, manure & a touch of fertilizer.
I have learned from about 15 years of gardening that you cannot plant something until Mother Nature says so. Planting something when the soil & air are still too cold is simply a waste of time, effort & money. But with the use of black plastic mulch (I put down a good two weeks before planting) which heats the soil a few degrees and the Wall O Waters, which heat the air, I will have ripe tomatoes at least three weeks before those planted late April or early May.
Just try them, I think they're about $10 for pack of three from most seed catalogs. So for 15 bucks (postage & handling included) they're worth a try...You might be telling someone else a couple of years from now why THEY should be trying them.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 9:55PM
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I never put tomatoes in before May 1st...I have planted them as late as Memorial Day and still had tomatoes by the 4th of July. If you put them in the ground when it is too cool they are just going to sit there until it does get good and warm. I haven't tried the Wall of Water but then I put in 4 dozen or more plants each year.

My mistake this year was putting my tender perennials out too soon. (I wanted the lights in the basement for seed starting) I have lost most of the leaves in the frost earlier this week, but I think the plants are still going to survive. I hope I hope


    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 10:34AM
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pjdsr(z7 VA)

O, where are you that you had frost this week? I'm in NoVa and we haven't had anything close to frost this week.

Harry, have you tried red plastic? I might try it this year.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 12:20PM
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I am about halfway between Fredricksbug and Richmond but we have this weird little pocket of freaky weather that seems to dip a few degrees below everyone else.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 11:00PM
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harryvetch(Cent.VA/ Zone 7)

Haven't tried the red plastic yet, but plan on giving it a try, maybe next year. In all honesty, I am a cheapskate, and the black stuff is fairly cheap at Southern States.
My SunGolds in the WOWs are now 16 inches tall, have grown about 4 inches since I measured them Wednesday.
This has been one heck of a nice April so far, I hope that there are no "paybacks" this summer!

Harry V

    Bookmark   April 15, 2006 at 10:42AM
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pjdsr(z7 VA)

I'm with you, Harry V. My heirlooms went into the raised bed yesterday. Hybrids should arrive soon and will go in as well. Wish me luck!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2006 at 2:13PM
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harryvetch(Cent.VA/ Zone 7)


What varieties are you growing?
I've got 15 differant of them this year.
My favorites are Sun Gold (hybrid), Brandywine & Eva Purple Ball (both heirlooms)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 2:32PM
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pjdsr(z7 VA)

Harry V, my heirlooms are: Sun Gold, Watermelon, Cherokee Purple, Mortgage Lifter and two Celebrity determinates. There's one other I can't recall right now. I got them from, which I really like.
My hybrids include: Better Boy, Roma, Red Cherry, and four others I got from Burpee.
I tried to start several from seeds I got from TGS but did not get good results. Something is wrong with my indoor light system. Peppers do quite well but tomatoes do not for some reason.
Go to love this weather!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2006 at 12:05PM
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I know a lot of people have, but I plant about 75 tomatoe plants that I start from seed, inside. and I am not taking any chances on losing any of them. So I am waiting paitently (fruit of the Spirit of God) and I am going to plant the first week in May.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 7:15PM
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I'm in the Fairfax/Burke area of No VA and my maters have been outside since March 30th. I have a small back yard and use Self Watering Containers (SWC) to grow my maters. They have been doing fine and I have a few Dwarfs that are starting to set fruit. Last year my notes indicated that 4/7 and 4/13 were days of a chance for frost but it only got down to 34 degrees so I dodged the frost bullet. This year's early spring has been great.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 7:30AM
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coffeehaus(7a Central VA)

We set out 2 Bloody Butcher plants on April 22, but have them covered with large clear plastic bags. I still have a couple in reserve, just in case we get another frost. We had frost here in central VA on April 18.
In general, our major tomato planting occurs around mid-May. We set out so many plants that we have to wait until we are pretty sure that the chance of frost is very low. Otherwise, we have too many plants to fool with covering them. This year I am growing about 18 different varieties, and some of those will be planted in multiples (e.g. Super Marzano) for canning purposes. And that's not counting the peppers and eggplant. So my basement is full of plants!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 9:18PM
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I took a trip to Tom's greenhouse in Bland yesterday! Got me some Purple Cherokee and White tomatoes, plus a bunch of misc goods. It was a beautiful drive, we talked with some Appalachian Trial hikers at the Dairy Queen by the interstate - all in all it was a nice day trip. For those in southwest Virginia - check in with Bloomin Idiots ( I don't think this is advertising as it was just me and the kid, dog and a friend that took a drive in the country.)

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 12:05PM
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Tomatoes are self watering containers and growing in like weeds here in No VA.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 9:41PM
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May 22 update

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 7:55PM
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We started from seeds in the winter, hardened off in late Mar-Apr and transplanted in mid-Apr and May. I have TONS of flowers, which started showing up about a week or two ago, but thus far, no fruit. My varieties are all heirloom, I water with a drip irrigation system I installed and have fertilized once with fish emulsion. The plants themselves are 4 feet in heights so far and look very robust. Any ideas? Is this normal for this area?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 7:49AM
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Try taking a very small paint brush like you would use to paint trim on a model car and dust the flowers of like plants. Wait a week and see if that helps some maters set fruit.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 8:21PM
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this could also prevent turtles and rabbits from nibbling on young plants!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 2:05PM
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