Too early for tomatoes in Vancouver?

Discussion in 'Fruit and Vegetable Gardening' started by suz12, May 12, 2008.

  1. suz12

    suz12 Member

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    This is my first year starting from seeds and I think I may have been a little over-enthusiastic and started a bit too early (~end of March) because we now have 20 2-3 foot tall tomato plants taking over our kitchen! We are in Port Moody, BC, just outside of Vancouver - is it still too chilly and early to start hardening them off?

    Thanks.
     

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  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    I'd just wait until it was warm enough (summer-like, with warm nights) and put them out then. Then the only problem will be keeping them from burning in the sun.
     
  3. Gardener1

    Gardener1 Active Member

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    The bigger problem I have had is coaxing the green tomatoes to turn red. Also, despite best efforts my plants turn out tall and "leggy" compared with the ones being sold in the market....

    I wish some one would post an answer to the problem of making sure the plants have thick trunks and are not leggy...

    G1
     
  4. Creeping Jenny

    Creeping Jenny Active Member

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    I have 3 plants out in my shed right now. They are sheltered but the huge dog door gives them some good drafts from outside. They seem to be doing fine. They are small enough that I can bring in if I need to though. Its supposed to be 28 degrees over the weekend so they should get to go out soon!
     
  5. suz12

    suz12 Member

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    As you can see in the photo, mine too are quite tall and leggy. I tried to keep the grow lights as low as possible so they wouldn't 'reach' for the light, but apparently that didn't help any.

    I will definitely put them out side during the day and evening, and then maybe bring them back in at night if it cools down too much - now I just want to be sure not to shock them with 30 degree heat!
     
  6. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The main reason the tomatoes are leggy is that they are not getting a lot of light. It is very difficult to provide enough light indoors. The plants you buy at the garden centre are grown in green house conditions and possibly additional artificial light. The plants should do fine after they are out in the garden.

    Tomatoes and other tender plants do best after nighttime lows are staying above 10 degrees (50 Fahrenheit). I think we are just getting to that point. The highs will have to increase a little too if we are ever going to harvest any tomatoes outdoors this year.
     
  7. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    And (later in the season obviously) if your tomatoes are not turning red, try holding back on water. That has worked for me.
     
  8. Creeping Jenny

    Creeping Jenny Active Member

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    Really? Thats interesting. Why is that?
     
  9. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Holding back on water actually stresses the plants. When there is plenty of water and warmth the plants think it is time to grow and make leaves. As long as conditions are good they want to continue to do this. When water decreases they get the message that fall is coming and they better ripen some fruit before the season changes.
     
  10. Creeping Jenny

    Creeping Jenny Active Member

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    That makes total sense!
     
  11. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years

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    Eric and all--I think yours is one of the few ways to succeed with getting these things to turn red. Another suggestion from an old market gardener was to drive the shovel into 2 of the 4 sides of the root ball once the fruit had sized up, the resulting stress would produce ripe fruit several weeks earlier.

    The down side with all these things is the harm done to the plant, and with tomatoes we can often get deformed fruit when moisture, etc. is irregular. If I had enough plants, I would just sacrifice a few to get those early (and most prized) fruits, then leave the others for the main hopefully flawless harvest later.

    My tomato plants in the greenhouse already have full sized fruit, but without some urging they will probably ripen sometime in July like always...this is not ideal tomato growing country! Pretty sure it's the cool nights on the west coast...great for getting to sleep at night, not so great for growing heat loving plants...
     
  12. suz12

    suz12 Member

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    That's interesting. Wish I had heard about this last year when I had plant-fulls of green fruit.
     
  13. fleur52

    fleur52 Active Member

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    Re: Too early for tomatoes

    One of the few things I really have luck growing from seed is tomatoes. I start my seeds in the small plastic milk bags. Fold the top down til the bag is only about 3" high and plant the seed. Once leaves start forming, I turn the sides of the bag up one turn and add more soil to cover all the leaves, except for the top few. As the plant grows I repeat this process until the bag is fully extended. By the time the plant is ready to go outside - early June in my case - the plant has a tremendous root system. Once the plant has formed its fruit I pinch back over 50% of its leaves. The plant then puts all its energy into developing the fruit and not more leaves. It also helps to not over water them as the skins will split.
     
  14. Lostmind

    Lostmind Member

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    Hello from Port Moody.

    My forecast says that by tuesday the overnight temps in our area will drop back down to 2c, which is a little annoying. I have the same problem, I have a bunch of plants that need to go out but I am afraid they will die with the overnight colds. Just a couple weeks ago on one of our rare sunny days I had my plants on the balcony getting some real sun and had to go do some work. I ended up being stuck at work till about 1am and when I came home over half my plants were dead and it was still 4c.
     
  15. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Lost--if you're in Port Moody, check the forecast again. I don't see any overnights out of normal range for the outlook period. I'm tempted to start emptying the greenhouse :-)

    Amongst other things I'm pondering whether to pop my pole beans (sprouted in peat pots) into the garden now...trying to figure out the trade off between some cold nights possible outside, compared to the benefits of getting the plants rooted into the ground and sizing up better out there...
     

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