When to move tomatoes to the garden


When should I move my tomato plants into the garden? I started from seeds and all my plants are quite tall now but I’m not sure when to plant. I’m in Southern California.

Posted by: Fred Johnson (3 points) Fred Johnson
Posted: February 1, 2013


Hardening off your plants, bringing them outside to experience the "real world" one toe at a time should be your goal. Typically if you take a plant grown under artificial lighting and toss it into full sun is a good way to sunburn your leaves and lose them causing your plant to have to grow replacements. Real sunlight is too intense so you can put them outside with indirect sunlight and gradually get them more direct sunlight.

Weak stems can also be an issue with indoor grown plants, so try to protect them from gusts of wind.

Gradually the plants adjust to the light intensity and the generally more breezy outdoor environment.

If it is >36 degrees out my plants stay the night outside if there is a chance it will dip they come back in. I wont be putting my first plants in the ground unprotected until I believe the night time air temps are 40 or greater. I also always raise spare plants in case they die from frost or transplanting issues etc.

Posted by: Wurgulf (1 point) Wurgulf
Posted: March 28, 2013

I'd say that getting them accustomed is not necessary unless you live in relatively cold climate. My rule is that as soon as you have frost-free nights - which in Southern California shouldn't be a problem - you can put them in the ground. I have been growing tomatoes for many years now in a variety of climates, and this rule seemed to work well.

The benefit of having them in the ground is that they can establish their roots and grow fast. In the worst case of a late frost you can always wrap them over night.

Posted by: Rahel Salathé (13 points) Rahel Salathé
Posted: February 3, 2013

You could probably start getting them accustomed to being in the garden by taking them outdoors during the day and bringing them back indoors at night, it depends on the variety really but you may be able to think about planting them in several weeks once they are accustomed to being outdoors.

Posted by: Lindsay McMenemy (4 points) Lindsay McMenemy
Posted: February 1, 2013

Hopefully things are better now but remember the freakish cold weather in Sth California a few weeks ago that destroyed lots of produce such as lettuce and tomatoes. Be aware of such things and bringing them in at night.

Posted by: David Hughes (67 points) David Hughes
Posted: February 2, 2013

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