we start our tomatoes indoors in mid-March, about 6 weeks before the last frost and 7 to 8 weeks before transplanting into the garden.
Though it’s very tempting to start earlier, we’ve found that it doesn’t provide a significant advantage.
In early May, when nighttime temps are in the 40’s or above, we move the tomatoes outside, preferably on an overcast day, and place them in the shade.
This begins the hardening off process.
Over the course of the next week or two, we gradually move them out of the shade and into the sun.
This allows them to adapt to outdoor conditions and reduces subscale.
Sometime around mid-May, when nighttime temperatures are mostly in the 50’s or above, we transplant the tomatoes.
Much of our garden is partially shaded, so we save the sunniest spots for tomatoes.
We also practice crop rotation and don’t plant tomatoes where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, or eggplants grew the prior year.
Tomatoes can grow new roots along the stem, so we plant them fairly deep, leaving only about 4 to 6 inches above ground and snipping branches if needed.
We space our indeterminate tomatoes one per square foot and prune suckers to prevent overcrowding.
This helps maximize yields per square foot.
When the plants get taller, we also prune the lowest branches to reduce blight.
As the plants grow, we weave them through the trellis grid, which usually provides more than enough support for the plants.
When they reach the top of our 8 foot trellises, we top them off to encourage fruit production.
Tomatoes need moderate to high watering during the growth stage and light watering at harvest time.
We have a lot of rain in the extended forecast, so we probably won’t have to water much in the near future.
In a couple of weeks, when soil temperatures are higher, we’ll mulch the tomatoes to reduce watering requirements.
This will also reduce soil splash, which will protect the plants from blight.
Finally, we’ve found through experience and a soil test that compost, worm castings, and mulch from free local resources provide more than enough nutrients for our tomatoes and the rest of our plants.
that’s all for now.