Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Protecting tomatoes against the cold

A picture worth at least a few words, which are: we are still expecting some cold nights coming up, so if you have tomatoes in the ground or are putting them in soon, give them some protection! I couldn't wait any longer to get some of my huge plants in small pots into the ground, so I broke out all the protection devices I had lying around.

No endorsement implied (especially since I have limited to no experience with these devices), but from left to right:

Gro-Therm Perforated Transparent Film (over hoops)
Pop-Up Tomato Accelerator
Weather Defender Tomato Cages

Also in the photo: one tomato left uncovered to see how it does in comparison. Off camera: stuck two with my cabbages under a big row cover tunnel.

If you don't have any of this stuff, you can still protect your plants. Just watch the weather forecast and throw an old sheet over the plants when temperatures dip below 50, especially if there's wind. (Use rocks to hold it down. Also cheap.) Your plants will live without protection unless we actually get a frost, but their growth will be slowed and perhaps stunted.

Yes, indeed, I should have waited to start my tomatoes so I could hold them inside until well after Mother's Day. My only excuse is that some of us MGs did a little grafting project (with which I had some success!) and had to get both rootstock and scions started pretty early since the grafted plants are set back in growth during recovery. And for whatever reason I decided that since I was using a 50-cell tray to start the plants, I needed to fill every cell... plus start some others a week later just in case... anyone need some tomato seedlings?


  1. I started my tomatoes 5 weeks (April 12) before my plant out date on May 17. This way, they haven't out grown the small 2 and a half inch cell packs I start them in. Tomatoes don't do well in cool rainy weather whn the soil temperature is below 55 degrees. but fear not, the weather will be warming up to the mid 80s by the middle of next week.

    1. I like to wait till soil temps are 60 degrees if possible. But if you read my post you saw why my seedlings got started early and are so big. I have plenty left to put in when things have warmed up - but what's gardening without a little risk?

  2. I started my Baxter Cherry Tomatoes Feb 22end. It has grow huge but still waiting on the fruit. I think I gave it too much nitrogen or something. I did a massive clearing out to encourage some flowers

  3. One year I think you guys published soil temps so we had an idea of when we might plant. Want to give an update? I just repotted my tomatoes rather than put them in ground BC I'm afraid garden is not warm enough in this cool spring. It's May 27. Thoughts?

    1. You should get a soil thermometer! That way you can take the temperature in your own garden, which will be locally different. I haven't checked recently, but I think we are above 60 degrees soil temperature in most of central Maryland, meaning it's okay to plant tomatoes. Of course it's chilly and rainy, but they have to go in sometime!


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