Friday, April 12, 2013

Crazy Weather: When to Plant Tomatoes

In early April, it appeared that winter was doing it's best to hang on here in Pennsylvania.  Then suddenly, we were hitting 87 degrees this week!  And just like that, today, the cold temps have blown back in for the weekend.  It's always difficult to know when to plant tomatoes and the other summer crops, but this crazy weather has left many scratching their heads.  Add to the confusion the fact that the stores are beginning to stock beautiful tomato plants tempting gardeners to buy and plant.  Therefore, this must be the perfect time, right?

While checking out at the grocery store, I overheard the cashier saying how he had just planted his tomato plants that he bought at Home Depot.  I wanted to lean in and tell him it was too early to plant, but my advice would have been too late.  Then I arrived home and noticed that my own tomatoes under the grow light look like they should in late May.  Apparently the grow light works!  I had to wonder if I could break the rules and be like the cashier, recklessly putting them in the ground whenever my gardener's heart desired!  But I know better.  Mother Nature bit me last year with a final late frost on April 27!  So when to plant?
Just 3 weeks after planting, they're getting so tall,
I'm running out of room to move up the grow light!
Assuming you already have your cold weather crops in the ground (lettuces, radish, carrots, onions, romaine, spinach, broccoli, etc.) I'm referring to the summer plantings.  The standard thinking is to plant them after the last frost.  However, no one knows when that will be so it doesn't make for great advice.  On the other hand, gonig with the most likely planting date (one that is 90% safely past the last frost) is your best option.  For Philadelphia, that would be April 10-19.  That's good news for those of us in this area!  We can start planting!  As for those outside the area, here's the link to a great chart to find your city (Almanac frost dates).

Meanwhile, the best planting date is still later.  My grandfather always said to wait till May, preferably Mother's Day weekend or later.  Afterall, it was April 27 last year when I took a chance and watched my sprouts get frostbitten.  If we do get hit with another frost, just remember to cover your plants.  Happy Planting!

Linked up at: The Clever Chicks Blog Hop


  1. Your plants look gorgeous, and gracious! How did you get so smart?! Thanks for all this great info :)

  2. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week; I hope you’ll join us again!

    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick