Tomatoes are a staple in many kitchens, considering they go well in salads, salsas, soups, and many other dishes. If you live in the Great Lake state and want to know when to plant tomatoes in Michigan, read through this article.
Generally, you should grow these fruits when there’s no frost — in other words, between April 16 and October 15. Note that these dates may vary by 2 weeks to around a month as the frost dates might change every year.
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When Does Tomato Season Start in Michigan?
The estimate above should give you the growing season for tomatoes, but to be safe, it’s best to look up the frost dates for your city on almanac.com.
For quick reference, below are the spring and autumn frost dates for some places in Michigan. You should start planting tomatoes between these two points in time.
- Adrian – May 8 & October 9
- Beecher – May 10 & October 7
- Big Rapids – May 20 & September 28
- Canton – April 30 & October 18
- Detroit – April 27 & October 24
- Flint – May 13 & October 4
- Grandville – May 14 & October 5
- Pontiac – May 2 & October 16
- Southfield – May 2 & October 20
- Westland – April 28 & October 22
- Wyoming – May 14 & October 5
- Ypsilanti – May 10 & October 7
Alternatively, it’s possible to sow tomato seeds indoors seven to eight weeks before the last spring frost. For example, Grandville residents may grow these fruits on March 20 instead of May 15.
If you follow this method, wait until there’s no danger of ice to transplant your fruits outdoors. The best time of day to move seedlings outside is in the evening.
Other Conditions for Growing Tomatoes
Before you start growing tomatoes, ensure they have the right environment to thrive in.
Tomatoes grow best when the weather is 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Generally, if the temperature is under 50 degrees or as high as 85 degrees, don’t expect them to develop well or bear fruits.
Hence, it’s best to check the soil with a thermometer and read the description of your seed package before planting. Then, ensure the ground meets the temperature requirement for your tomato variety.
Tomatoes should receive eight hours of direct sunlight per day, but if eight hours aren’t possible, six would do.
With that said, excess heat will damage these plants, so what to do if the weather’s too hot in June or July? You can shield tomatoes with row covers; just make sure to use light materials to avoid damaging these fruits.
Mulch and water will cool the soil as well, so give your plants both.
Tomatoes should be far from black walnut trees (around 80 feet away or so) to prevent juglone poisoning. Even if the walnut trees have been cut down recently, follow this recommendation, as juglone can stay in the soil for several years.
Moreover, vary the locations of your tomato garden beds annually. Doing so will lessen the risk of plant disease and insects.
Best Tomatoes to Grow in Michigan
There are some tomato varieties that suit the Great Lake state well. Knowing about them and the Michigan planting calendar will give you the best chance to grow tomatoes. Check out the list below for these cultivars.
1. Beef Steak
This type requires stakes or cages for support and around 85 days to mature. Because it takes a long time to grow, it’s best to sow Beef Steak seeds indoors and transfer them outdoors later in May.
These fruits will also require one to two inches of water per week.
2. Cherokee Purple
This tomato variety can grow throughout the entire gardening season, as long as the soil is moist and warm enough.
In detail, Cherokee Purple plants should get one to two inches of water regularly and a soil temperature of 65 degrees or more.
3. Tasti Lee
A hybrid tomato species, the Tasti Lee often doesn’t require staking to grow. It will germinate when the temperature is 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit and resist sunscald well. This variety is also vibrantly red in color and rich in lycopene.
Aside from the three tomato types above, other cultivars that suit Michigan’s climate are Rutgers, Pik-red, Springset, Amish paste, Oxheart, Brandywine, Tye Dye, Sweet Treats, and Big Pink.
Facts About Tomato Planting in Michigan
- Michigan produces both fresh and processed tomatoes, with the former being available in August and September.
- Notably, The Great Lake state ranks fifth in the US for processed tomatoes, seventh for fresh tomatoes, and eighth for all types of this agricultural product.
When to plant tomatoes in Michigan? You can do this task seven to eight weeks before the last spring frost, provided the fruits are grown indoors. Otherwise, wait until the weather’s not icy to start gardening.
It’s also best to pick tomato varieties which suit Michigan well. Doing so will increase the viability of your cultivation project.
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