When should you plant tomatoes in the fall?

Answered by James Kissner

When it comes to planting tomatoes in the fall, timing is crucial for a successful harvest. The first step is to determine the average first frost date in your area. This information can usually be found online or obtained from your local agricultural extension office. Once you have this date, you can count back 60-85 days to determine when to plant your fall tomatoes.

Counting back 60-85 days allows for the necessary time for the tomatoes to grow and mature before the first frost arrives. The specific range of days depends on the variety of tomatoes you are planning to grow. Some varieties take longer to mature than others, so it’s important to consider this when calculating the planting date.

For example, if the average first frost date in your area is October 15th, you would count back 60-85 days to determine your planting window. If you choose a variety that takes 70 days to mature, you would plant your tomatoes around July 26th. However, if you choose a variety that takes 80 days to mature, you would need to plant them around July 16th to ensure they have enough time to grow before the first frost.

It’s worth noting that these dates are just guidelines and can vary depending on your specific climate and growing conditions. Factors such as temperature, sunlight, and soil quality can all affect the growth and maturity of your tomatoes. It’s always a good idea to monitor your plants closely and make adjustments as needed.

If you are growing tomatoes in a grow bag or container garden that is easy to move, you have the advantage of being able to extend your growing season. When the first cool temperatures arrive, you can bring your garden inside to protect your tomatoes from frost and continue to enjoy fresh tomatoes for a longer period.

In my personal experience, I have found that planting fall tomatoes can be a rewarding endeavor. It allows me to enjoy fresh tomatoes well into the cooler months when my summer tomato plants have already finished producing. I have had success using both determinate and indeterminate varieties, but I always make sure to choose ones that have a shorter maturity period for fall planting. This ensures that they have enough time to reach maturity before the first frost.

To summarize, the best time to plant fall tomatoes is determined by counting back 60-85 days from the average first frost date in your area. Consider the maturity period of the tomato variety you choose and make adjustments based on your specific growing conditions. And if you have the ability to bring your garden indoors, you can extend your tomato season even further. Happy planting!