The Q&A Archives: Starting Tomatoes

Question: I'm a 12 year old boy. I'm very interested in gardening and I want to grow tomatoes this year. But I have a questions I need help on.<br><br>I live in Zone 5 or 6, and I'm not sure when to start my seeds indoors and when to work the soil or when to transplant. Can you help me?

Answer: It's best to start tomato seeds 6 to 8 weeks before your average last frost date. In your area, your usual last frost is around the first week of May. I would start your seeds around the second week of March. (There's really no benefit to starting them much earlier, though I'm often impatient to begin gardening!) Plant to transplant them into the garden around the second week of May--and be sure you "harden off" your seedlings before transplanting them outdoors. Harden them off by placing them outdoors in filtered light for a few hours the first day, increasing the time they spend outdoors over a week or so until they are out the full day. This gives them some time to adapt to the harsher outdoor conditions.<br><br>I'll assume youhave a place where your growing seedlings will get plenty of light--preferably some fluorescent lights that you can adjust to keep them just an inch or two above the growing seedlings.<br><br>Begin to work the soil in your garden only after it has dried some from the snow melt and spring rains. Don't work the soil when it is muddy, or you will compact it. <br><br>(By the way, my zone map puts you in USDA Zone 6A.)<br><br>I hope this helps!

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