The Q&A Archives: Tomatoes Slow To Ripen

Question: Each year I plant about 5 different types of tomatoes, all early ones, and have yet to pick ripe tomatoes before Labor Day weekend. I have even tried your water bags enabling me to put plants out earlier. I start plants indoors from seed in March and harden them in a cold frame for about 3 weeks before putting in garden. How can I get tomatoes earlier?

Answer: From your description it sounds like you are doing a lot of things right. In my experience one of the most important aspects of growing tomatoes is to keep the plants from becoming stressed at any point in their development. Keeping them in vigorous growth throughout seems to help them bear sooner. Make sure that they are always in optimum light with good fertility and ample root space in their pots and warm enough temperatures. Make sure too that the soil is warm when you plant them outdoors so that they don't stall. You might try a raised bed covered in black plastic or similar method for warming the soil prior to planting them out in the garden. You might also find that starting them a bit later so they spend less time under artificial conditions is better, even if the plants are a bit smaller when you set them out they may well catch up over time because they are less stressed. I hope this helps!

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