The tomato is a fine fruit with many applications and benefits. Great for pastas, salads, and even juices, the tomato is also packed with tons of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K. Tomatoes are also major sources of the antioxidant lycopene – which has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
With all that in mind, is there any question why you should be growing your own tomatoes immediately? No, there isn’t. Indeed, a much better question to pose is: when can you start growing this super food in your own backyard? In this article, expect to be guided on when is the best time to plant those tomato seeds, along with some great tips for you to reap the most fruitful harvest you can.
When’s the Right Time to plant tomato seeds?
Tomatoes thrive on warmth and sunlight. Most of the best tomatoes out there are grown in Greece and Italy – where the warm Mediterranean climate makes the cultivation of tomato crops so easy. This is why it would be best to plant tomato seeds during the end of spring or early summer. This ensures the tomatoes get enough heat and warmth while also having enough time to bear fruit before the winter.
How To Know If the Time Is Right?
Planting the tomatoes is usually recommended to be done about two weeks after the date of the last spring frost date – this typically falls around March or April but also depends on your location relevant to the equator. Apart from the seasons, some of the other factors one can check for includes:
- Soil Temperature – using a soil thermometer, you can gauge if the conditions for tomato planting are right if the soil’s temperature reaches a consistent 60 degrees Fahrenheit – this is the most optimal temperature for growing tomatoes. If you don’t have a soil thermometer, a neat little hack you can do is sticking your finger into the soil for a minute. If you cannot keep your finger in the soil for a minute without it being uncomfortable than the soil is likely too cold for planting tomatoes.
- Night-time Temperature – Plant the tomatoes when the night-time temperature stays a consistent 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because tomatoes usually begin to bear fruit when night-time temperatures reach about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. By planting when it’s 50 degrees, you’re allotting the tomatoes enough time to mature for harvest season.
When Is Too Late?
In general, tomato plants need about 50-100 days to mature and yield fruit depending on the type. Take this into account and time their planting correctly with the turn of the seasons.
The main point of consideration here is to give the tomato seeds enough time in the warm months to fully grow and mature and fruit before the seasons turn cold again.
If you find yourself in the middle of the warm seasons, consider getting a tomato type with shorter days of maturity or start the seeds indoors first, then replant them outside when the season is more favorable.
What If You’re Grow Tomatoes Indoors?
If you plan on growing tomatoes indoors, you might not have to worry to much about things like the right season for tomato planting. One of the main benefits of planting indoors is you can plant anything all year round so long as you are able to set the right conditions.
The best you can do for planting tomato seeds indoors is provide artificial warmth using a heat mat. It needs to be able to provide temperatures between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit which is ideal for germination. Once they’re growing, keep them on a cool 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
The tomato seedlings can survive on light from the window but it would be much better to put them under some LED grow lights.
What Else To Consider When Planting Tomato Seeds?
The way to begin seed starting is by using a soilless mix labelled for that purpose. If you opt to use just regular gardening soil from the start, you could run the risk of exposing the seeds to disease organisms living within.
Use seed starting trays and biodegradable pots for your tomato seeds but any pot with enough space and holes for water drainage will do.
Consider the type of tomatoes you’d like to grow too. There are many different tomatoes great for many different things. One classification to take into account is if the seeds are either: Determinate or Indeterminate. Determinate seeds grow to be about 3 feet tall and are great for containers and/or indoor planting. Indeterminate seeds grow up to be 6 feet tall or more and might require more space.
To summarize everything discussed thus far:
The best time to plant tomato seeds is during the end of spring or early summer, about two weeks after the date of the last spring frost date.
When in doubt…
Use a soil thermometer, the soil’s temperature should be a consistent 60 degrees Fahrenheit – this is the most optimal soil temperature for growing tomatoes. The night-time temperature should also stay a consistent 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and by planting when it’s 50 degrees, you’re allotting the tomatoes enough time to mature for harvest season.
If you intend on planting tomatoes but not on the correct timeframe…
Consider getting a tomato seed type with shorter days of maturity or start the seeds indoors first then replant them outside when the season is more favorable.
And, when deciding to grow tomatoes indoors…
Provide artificial warmth using a heat mat. Keep soil temperatures between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit which is ideal for germination, then keep them on a cool 65 degrees Fahrenheit once growing. LED grow lights would be ideal too.
And that was all you needed to know and more about the right time to plant tomato seeds. We certainly hope that this article was of great benefit to you and your tomato seed growing prospects. Growing tomatoes can be a fun hobby, a healthy food option, and also a cost saving technique all-in-one. Good luck and happy planting!