Gardening Tips for Early Tomatoes
I think every person I know that has a vegetable garden strives to get early tomatoes. Here in the north country to get them by the end of July can be a real challenge. I have been able to get early tomatoes by the 4th of July. But it takes a lot of work.
The first thing is to start them real early. Also, pick an early variety like cold set or early girl. If you don’t have a heated greenhouse purchase some grow lights. You can put together your own system pretty inexpensively. I try to have at least some marble size tomatoes on my plants by the time they hit the garden
I guess I am writing this article a little late. So that is something to keep in mind for next year…
Ok, so you didn’t get an early start this year. That’s ok. You still have time to purchase them.
I look at planting the middle of May. That is to early to plant here so it is a covered planting. By that, I mean you set up a temporary structure the size of your tomato patch. One that you can cover in plastic to protect the plants and keep them warm. You have to make this so on warm days you can pull the plastic back so you don’t cook the plants. With the extra heat once they take hold in the ground they will grow like crazy. Use blossom set for pollination it works great. The idea behind this is not to have a greenhouse tomato but just to give them a very good head start. Watch both day and night time temperatures closely. If you live in the north a hard frost could go right through the plastic. Be sure none of the leaves of the plants are touching the plastic. They could freeze. You can place a heater inside, or what I do is run my sprinkler line inside. Turn it on before daybreak if the inside temperature looks like it is going to get too cold. This seems to work really good. I have never had a problem.
Daytime temperatures inside will rise very quickly when the sun is shining. You want to set your structure
Up so you can peel the plastic back part or all the way depending on the weather. During a normal northern summer, you should be able to take the plastic off completely by the middle of June. I have had a couple of years that there has been an exception. But it is not very frequent. So if you live in the north and you want early tomatoes you can do it. It’s just going to take some work.