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When to Plant Tomatoes

Tomato seedlings in peat pots.

Plant tomato seedlings in the garden 4 weeks after the last frost. Sow tomato seeds indoors 6 to 10 weeks before setting seedlings in the garden.  The garden soil temperature for setting out transplants should be at least 60°F (16°C).

Tomatoes can be set in the garden sooner if they are protected from the cold by a plastic tunnel or other season-extending devices.

For an extended or staggered harvest, plant early, mid and late, or long to maturity varieties in mid to late spring.

Determinate tomatoes come to harvest earlier than indeterminate varieties. Determinate varieties are a good choice for planting in spring for an early summer harvest and in fall for a quick harvest before the first frost.

Tomatoes grow best in a bit sandy, well-drained loam rich in organic matter. Add plenty of aged compost to the planting bed before planting. Plant tomatoes in full sun. Eve moisture throughout the growing season is essential for flavorful fruit development. Be sure to keep the space around tomatoes well weeded, especially in the 5 weeks after transplanting.

tomato seedlings
Tomato seedlings

Tomato seedling planting dates

(These dates are for the Northern Hemisphere)

Average date of the last frostPlanting dates
Jan. 30Feb. 1-Apr. 1
Feb. 8Feb. 20-Apr. 10
Feb. 18Mar. 1-Apr. 20
Feb. 28Mar. 10-May 1
Mar. 10Mar. 20-May 10
Mar. 20Apr. 1-May 20
Mar. 30Apr. 10-June 1
Apr. 10Apr. 20-June 1
Apr. 20May 5-June 10
Apr. 30May 10-June 15
May 10May 15-June 15
May 20May 25-June 15
May 30June 5-20
June 10June 15-30
Young tomato seedlings

Tomato planting details

  • Sowing depth: ¼- ½ inch (6-12mm)
  • Space between plant after thinning: 2-4 feet (.6-1.2m)
  • Days to sprout: 10
  • Days to harvest: 60-90
  • Storage period: 1-2 weeks
  • Seeds per 100 row feet: 1 packet (50 plants)
  • Yield per 100 row feet: 300 pounds (136 kilogram)
  • Early season varieties: Early Girl, Green Grape, Juliet, Stupice, Sun Gold, Sweet 100.
  • Midseason varieties: Arkansas Traveler, Better Boy, Celebrity, Cherokee Purple, Marglobe, Red Brandywine, Roma
  • Late season varieties: Ace 55, Big Boy, Mortgage Lifter, Pink Brandywine, San Marzano

More about planting and growing tomatoes:

How to Grow Tomatoes

Tomato Seed Starting Tips

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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