As one of the largest tomato exporters in the world, the United States is a prime example of how beloved tomatoes are. Georgia, a US southeastern state, also grows an abundance of these juicy fruits thanks to their favorable weather conditions.
One key success behind Georgia’s high production rate is choosing the right sowing time. Thus, planting them after the last frost date, with temperatures of 70-80°F and in the ideal soil condition, helps produce robust harvests.
Learn more about when to plant tomatoes in Georgia below.
Table of Contents
Best Time to Plant Tomatoes in Georgia
1. Plant tomatoes after the last frost date
- Outdoor planting
When growing tomatoes in Georgia, a warm climate is essential for them to thrive because adverse weather will either kill them off or affect crop yields.
Therefore, the best time to plant tomatoes in Georgia is two weeks after the region’s typical last frost date, when the risk of cold has passed. Otherwise, the lingering low temperatures might still impact the crops.
For example, if you live in Northern Missouri, planting tomatoes in garden around May 21-25 is the ideal time since the last frost date in the area is May 10-20.
- Planting seeds indoors.
Unlike outdoor planting, you can sow tomato seeds indoors a few weeks before the frost ends. This is why most people do indoor seeding: to gain a head start and excellent production rates.
The rule when you want to grow garden tomato plants indoors is to sow them for four to seven weeks for proper establishment before transplanting them outside.
For instance, in Atlanta, the frost ends around March 29, so the time for starting seeds indoors is around February 8 to March.
Once the seedlings grow, allow one week to acclimate them before transplanting outdoors by bringing them outside each day until they can withstand up to eight hours of sunshine.
Gradually increasing sun exposure time will strengthen the tomato plants once you settle them in their new environment. As a result, they’ll have a better chance of surviving the heat and combating any diseases.
2. Grow tomatoes at a temperature of 70-80°F and in favorable soil conditions
- Planting in the proper air temperature.
When does tomato season start? The famous fruit starts in spring (late March to May) because this is when the temperatures are suitable for their growth.
The ideal warmth for planting tomatoes is between 70-80°F, and any temperature below 50°F may put them in danger.
- Planting in slightly acidic soil.
These fruits thrive best in a ground that is between 6.2 and 6.8 pH. For this reason, if your soil’s pH level is too high or low, you must first adjust it before planting tomato plants.
Applying organic matter or acidic fertilizers to alkaline soil can help. As for acidic soil, using dolomitic limestone is recommended, as it not only adjusts the pH level but also supplies tomatoes with the required magnesium and calcium.
How to Successfully Plant Tomatoes?
1. Starting seeds indoors
- Place your seeds in pots with drainage holes to protect their roots from getting overly soaked when watered.
- When growing tomatoes in containers in Georgia, use a specialized seed-starting soilless mix instead of ordinary garden soil for easy draining.
- Water the mix and fill the container with it. Leave a ½-inch space from the top and press the soil lightly.
- For each container (or cell), put 2-3 seeds.
- Bury the seeds with ¼-inch of soil mix and press the soil lightly to properly set them.
- After sowing, use a plant mister to dampen the surface but do not let the soil get waterlogged.
- Cover the container with a plastic wrap to trap the moisture inside.
- Lay the plant in a room with an average temperature of 70-75°F.
- Once the seeds emerge, uncover the plastic wrap and place the seedling near the window to have enough sunlight.
- Alternatively, position a grow light 1-2 inches from the plant if sunlight exposure is not feasible.
- Make sure that the different sides of the plant get equal amounts of sunlight by turning it each day so that it will grow in an upstanding post.
- Once the plants have grown, choose the sturdiest-looking seedling on each and cut off the rest, leaving only one plant per tray or pot.
- The first set of leaves will soon develop. However, wait until the second row (the true leaves) sprout before fertilizing the plants.
- Use a water-soluble fertilizer on your plants at least once a week.
2. Repotting your seedlings
As the seedlings grow taller, you need to transfer them to a larger pot for more space to grow. Here are the easy steps for repotting.
- Use a pot about 4 inches high and fill it with a dampened potting mix.
- Pour water onto the seedlings to soften the soil before pulling them out of their original container.
- Remove the seedling from the pot by pulling the leaves instead of the stem. Ensure that the stalk remains intact to avoid killing the plant.
- Sow the seedling in the new pot by placing it in the middle, then fill the pot with damped soil.
- Cover the roots and stem with soil while leaving the bottom leaves to breathe on the surface.
- Water them thoroughly.
3. Transplanting outdoors
- Pick a location where the plant can get a maximum of eight hours of sunlight.
- Apply compost to the ground to improve the soil’s quality.
- Make a hole with a depth of two-thirds of the plant’s height.
- Remove the tomato plant out of its pot and sow it on the ground.
- Bury the lower part of the plant with soil, leaving the upper body on the surface.
- Water thoroughly.
- Feed your tomatoes with calcium-rich fertilizers to prevent diseases like blossom-end rot.
- If you live in North Georgia, where summers are hot and humid, apply fungicide products such as chlorothalonil to prevent blight.
When should tomato plants be planted in Georgia?
The tomato growing season usually starts in late spring to early summer. Two continuous weeks without frost is also a good indication to begin planting the fruits.
Once this period begins, you can start sowing tomatoes because this phase has favorable conditions for their growth.
What tomato grows best in Georgia?
If you prefer cultivars compatible with containers, determinate varieties like Marglobe, San Marzano and Roma are the best tomatoes to grow in Georgia.
However, indeterminate varieties like Brandywine, Cherry, and Sungold are the best Georgia tomatoes if you favor taller ones that continually produce fruit until frost.
What is the best month to plant tomatoes in Georgia?
The best month to plant them depends on where you live. For those in the Southern part, mid-March to May is ideal, while mid-April is best for those in Northern Georgia.
However, the advantage of living in Southern Georgia is that aside from spring, you can also plant tomatoes in July (preferably late July) for a fall harvest.
For seeding indoors, those who live in the Southern area can start in early February before the last frost.
As for those in the Northern region, late February through early March is optimum.
What is a good plant to plant with tomatoes?
When you plant vegetables in Georgia along with your tomatoes, members of the onion family (e.g., chives, garlic, leeks, shallots) are the best companion plants to repel pests.
Cucumbers, peppers, and asparagus are also excellent choices. This is because cucumber and peppers both share the same requirements as tomatoes. Meanwhile, asparagus and tomatoes can repel each other’s pests.
Knowing when to plant tomatoes in Georgia is the most important step because proper planting time induces good growth.
To prevent crop failure from excessive cold, outdoor tomato planting needs to take place 2 weeks after the last frost. You can also start early by seeding them at least four weeks before the freezing period ends.
With this guide, hopefully, you’ll be able to sow your seeds at the proper time for mouthwatering yields.
Thank you for reading!