Plant tomatoes now? Is the killing frost gone?

A wise man once told me that when the swallows are back the chance of a hard frost is over. The Swallows have returned to our area. This must mean that it is time to plant tomatoes.

When planting a garden it is a good idea to rotate the area that is planted with tomatoes. This may reduce tomato blight, will help with insect/pest control and soil management. A garden map of what and where you will plant things is a big help. Remember to write a date on your map and keep it from year to year to help you remember where you planted in the past. There are websites that  can help you with this.  One that I have found to be useful is http://www.motherearthnews.com/garden-planner/vegetable-garden-planner

Your tomatoes will grow best in full sun and soil that is fertile and is not compacted such as clay. if your soil is heavy and clay like you can add organic matter such as peat or compost into the soil. You can purchase this at your local hardware store, Lowes, Home Depot or Target.

If your tomatoes are in peat pots either tear off the pot or make sure to bury the pot completely. Leaving the peat pot exposed above ground will act as a wick and dry out the soil around the roots. If your plant is in a plastic pot or cell pack you can carefully tap the plant out. If they have been grown in small flats you can use a knife to cut around them.

I plant determinate tomatoes(paste type) 24 inches apart and indeterminate tomatoes 30 inches apart in rows that are 36 to 40 inches apart.  My garden rake is my measuring tool. It is 15 inches long with tines that are 1 inch apart.

Bury the tomato plant up to the 1st real leaf

Bury the tomato plant up to the 1st real leaf.

Dig a hole and place the plant in the hole up to the first true leaves. (see photo).If your plant is tall and spindly pinch off the bottom leaves and lay them sideways in a trench. Carefully bend the stems up leaving a few inches of the plant above the soil. Roots will develop all along the buried stem. Before long you will want to install your tomato cages. Go to http://eztomatocage.com to see these remarkable collapsible tomato cages that will last for years to come.