Starting Tomatoes Indoors - Knowledgebase Question

Derry, NH
Avatar for sjcoffee
Question by sjcoffee
December 30, 1997
I want to start some tomato seed inside to plant in my garden. Because we are in NH I had the greatest success when I planted tomato plants that are fairly good sized by the end of May (when the danger of frost has finally passed). When I have used smaller plants I don't get tomatoes until August, and we sometimes get frost in Sept. which gives a pretty small harvest window. When should I start my plants? Any other tips? I want to start some vegetables inside to transplant this spring.

Answer from NGA
December 30, 1997
Often I have found that even tomatoes that have self-seeded will yield at the same time or sooner than those I have planted as potted plants purchased at a nursery! Therefore, I think your problem is that you are not picking varieties of tomatoes that come to maturity as quickly as possible. Aim for those that will mature in 54-60 days. That should give you a pretty good possibility of enjoying fully ripe tomatoes before our early New Hampshire frosts "nail" them!

It's a good idea to give yourself 5-6 weeks before the last frost when sowing seed indoors. I wouldn't start them more than 8 weeks before you plan to set them out. And don't be too anxious to set them out early. They all catch up with each other. Plant them good and deep, and don't mulch until the soil warms up.

Remember that you will have to have some supplemental lighting for your seedlings--fluorescent lights set just an inch or two above the tips of the plants are best.

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