Tomatoes are one of the summer crops that Virginians look forward to the most, especially the Hanover tomato in Hanover County because of its look, taste, and value.
In the larger view, tomatoes are famous for their sweet-sour taste, making them one of the most useful ingredients for recipes. No wonder why many people want to plant them.
Knowing when to plant tomatoes in Virginia can help us grow healthy and high-quality fruits.
Generally, planting them in a warm climate of 50°-90°F after the last frost date is the best time.
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Avoid Excessive Heat
High heat is one enemy of tomatoes that affects their proper growth. Too much of it will delay or even stop their fruit development and affect the size and quantity of the fruits.
Therefore, planting them at a suitable time and temperature is the best way to avoid these risks.
- Plant tomatoes in Spring.
The planting season in Virginia for tomatoes is in spring. At what month, to be more specific? The ideal time to sow them is in April.
Once winter ends, the warm climate of spring sets in, making it the best time to plant tomatoes for healthy growth and high yields.
Sowing seeds during this period will give them the time to get established and bear fruit before they can even face the risk of the summer’s high temperatures.
- Start planting tomatoes in daytime temperatures between 50°-90°F and soil of 60°F.
Tomatoes cannot thrive and may die in temperatures below 50°F, while sowing them above 90°F will make them struggle to bear fruit.
However, it is not simply the air conditions that affect their bloom. Warm soil, preferably at a temperature of 60°F, is optimum to encourage proper growth.
Thus, when you plant tomatoes within these limits, you will give them the chance to grow well.
Last Frost Dates
- Sow tomatoes after the last frost date.
Aside from too much heat, another factor you must avoid when sowing tomato seeds outside is the frost.
So, the best way to prevent risks is to study your area’s average last frost.
The optimum window of tomato planting dates for outdoor gardening is at least two weeks after the last frost and lasts for seven to eight weeks.
Since Virginia is a vast state, it has multiple regions with different freezing periods.
- For example, the average last frost in Tidewater in Eastern Virginia is between April 10-21. Here, tomato growing around April 23, May 30, or early June is ideal, provided you give weeks of allowance for unforeseen frosts.
- If you live in the Piedmont region, where the last frost ranges between April 20-30, planting tomatoes from April 30 or mid May is the best time.
- In Northern Virginia, the average last frost is the same as the Tidewater region, so the gardening time here is the same as well.
- However, if you live in West Virginia, most of its cities have their last frost between May 1-15. Here, growing tomatoes between May 14 to June 30 is ideal.
- Start tomatoes before the last frost date for indoor planting.
When should I start tomato seeds? If this is the question you have in mind, this will answer your query.
The safest way to start them is to plant tomato seeds indoors 5-7 weeks before the last frost date in your area.
So, if you live in Richmond Virginia for instance, sow them indoors as early as February 20, since its last frost date is on April 10.
For proper growth, follow these tips on growing tomatoes inside your home:
- Place them near the window or use LED lights to give the plants an adequate amount of light.
- Set them in a warm but well-ventilated room.
- Keep them moist. Watering them using a spray bottle is preferable to control the proper amount of water.
- Once the seedlings reach 6-10″ in height, it is a sign that you can transplant them outside.
- Limit irrigation for two weeks before transplanting.
Why Do You Need to Start Seeds Indoors?
One advantage of starting your seeds indoors is that it will help them get established, grow, and bear fruits early. It is best for varieties which take long to mature.
Another advantage is that it will prevent them from getting exposed to the risks of fluctuating temperatures and diseases outdoors.
Since seedlings are still fragile and sensitive, they are vulnerable to these types of risks.
How to Take Care of Tomato Plants?
1. Water regularly
Watering tomatoes every day, especially when temperatures are relatively high, will help them grow well.
However, when the rain pours for multiple days in a row, limiting the amount of water is the best way.
2. Place in an area with full sun.
Tomatoes need a maximum of 8 hours of sunlight every day, so transplant the seedlings outdoors in an area where they can get full sun.
3. Use the proper fertilizer.
Fertilizing tomato plants gives nutrients to them, which is beneficial, since they are heavy feeders.
When picking fertilizers, choosing one that provides phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium is the best option.
Now that you know when to plant tomatoes in Virginia, it won’t be that hard for you to sow seeds at the right time.
With the proper season and temperatures, you will indeed produce robust yields. Just be careful to follow the frost date rules!
If planting outdoors, do so two weeks after the freezing days, and if starting seeds indoors, sow them at least five weeks before the average last frost.
Follow these tips and properly take care of your tomatoes. Surely, doing so will make their fruits look excellent!
Furthermore, you also can refer to other topics related to planting tomatoes such as the best time to grow tomatoes in Florida, Oregon or Georgia.