Here the average last frost date is May 7th, the “safe” date is May 15th and that is the normal time we target most of our tomato seedlings for transplant into the garden. We do start some earlier, an early variety which this and last year was Red Alert. This comes into bearing faster than most varieties.
Vidya grows them on into a 4″ pot instead of the smaller cells we do the most of them into so they get bigger earlier. Yesterday, April 30th, I put 3 of them out. The hope is to have tomatoes by the 4th of July, while most varieties come into full bearing later in July or August in our climate.
I put a half cup of worm castings with them when transplanted and removed the small lower leaves, burying the stem deeper than where it was growing. Tomatoes are one of the exceptions to the rule of transplanting to the depth plants grew in the nursery, as they will sprout roots all along the buried stem. Before transplanting we set the plants in a container with water enhanced by liquid seaweed. The seaweed lessens transplant shock. Of course, we harden off the seedlings before transplanting.
Here they are after their first night in the garden.
Today is cloudy and transplanting on cloudy days or the evening before makes the transition from pot to garden soil a little easier. Lets them settle in and get a lsome new root growth before having to deal with full sun and the increased demand for transpiration. Even in sunny weather we transplant in the evening so they at least have the night before dealing with the sun.
The broccoli I also set out has no protection and doesn’t really need any for normal weather this time of year unless there is a hard killing frost when I would cover with some floating row cover. The seaweed does give some frost hardiness to plants, even tomatoes which I have seen with frost on them in the past once and they didn’t burn like regular tomatoes, and it was after seaweed treatment. A light frost for sure but even a light frost will toast a tomato normally.
These methods are sometimes known as season cheaters, as the season becomes longer and yields can go up by using these tricks.