Tomatoes are one the most widely grown vegetables in home gardens all over the world. They are rich in vitamins and potassium, and they have amazing health benefits. You can grow them in very small spaces, and they are popular in community gardens.
But when do tomatoes grow? The safe answer is, in summer. But it depends on your climatic conditions and the growing season of the cultivar you plant. They need at least 6-8 hours of full sun every day in northern regions for the full growing season. In warmer southern regions, they prefer light afternoon shade.
Best time to grow tomatoes
Air temperature affects the growth of tomatoes, and they are a warm-season plant. So, you need to plant once there is no danger of frost.
In most U.S. growing zones, this means planting in late spring or early summer. In very hot regions, including Zone 10, they are a fall and winter crop.
When growing tomatoes from seed, you need to allow 6-8 weeks for them to grow and establish seedlings. This means that in colder climates, it’s usually best to start them indoors and transplant them in your garden when it gets warmer, but before they start setting fruit.
Most tomato plants grow for 70 to 80 days before you will have ripe tomatoes ready to harvest. This means they will grow throughout the summer months.
What month do you get tomatoes to grow?
Most universities in the U.S. have a cooperative extension that provides information to help gardeners grow fruit and vegetables. Their advice is specific to each region and includes the best month to plant tomatoes.
The University of Georgia Extension advises setting your plants out in the garden in mid-March to early May. Georgia is, of course, in the southeast of the U.S. If you live in the south of the state, you can produce a second tomato crop if you plant again in late July.
This means you can grow tomatoes throughout summer, from late March (spring) until October (early fall).
Ohio State University’s cooperative extension located in the northeastern U.S. sets the first date for planting as of May 20, give or take a week or two for the north (later) and south (earlier).
Kansas State University’s agricultural experiment station and cooperative extension service, K-State Research, and Extension, is in the midwest. Here, they say, mid-May is the ideal time to plant your tomatoes. The best time to harvest ripe tomatoes in Kansas is from 4 July (for vine tomatoes) through mid-August.
The cooperative extension at Washington State University, located in the most northwestern U.S. state, also suggests mid-May for planting transplants in the garden. You can then harvest your crop before the end of summer in September.
Arizona is in the southeast, and there’s a cooperative extension at the University of Arizona in Pinal County. It’s very hot here, and it’s not easy to produce tomatoes in the desert region. They suggest transplanting in February to get the best possible crop before the heat of June.
Nevada is just north of Arizona, yet the specialists at the University of Nevada, Reno’s Extension college suggest March as the month to plant, as the last frost date is on 15 March. The types of tomatoes they recommend Nevada gardeners plant take 50 to 80 days to produce a harvest – from May to June.
How long does it take for a tomato plant to bear fruit?
It can take 2 to 3 months, sometimes longer, for tomato plants to reach the harvest stage. Most take 40 to 50 days to bear fruit, but once they produce fruits you’ll want them to ripen.
If you plant determinate tomato varieties (vine tomatoes) that grow on compact bushes, you’ll be able to pick all your tomatoes within 70 to 80 days. If you plant indeterminate tomato varieties, they will produce fruits within 80 days, but they will continue to blossom and fruit throughout the growing season.
Tips for Growing Tomatoes
Here are a few general growing tips
Plant Disease-Resistant Types
One of the benefits of growing your own fruit and vegetables is that you can be sure the fruit isn’t sprayed with toxic pesticides. Even though some varieties of tomatoes are susceptible to disease, there are many cultivars that have been developed to resist the most common diseases.
These include Alternaria stem canker (ASC), nematodes (N), Fusarium wilt (F), Septoria leaf spot (L), Tobacco Mosaic Virus (T), and Verticillium wilt (V). The letter after the cultivar name will tell you what diseases they are resistant to.
Staking and Caging Tomatoes
When tomato plants are laden with fruit, they get very heavy and the side stems tend to droop if you don’t stake them to provide support. Many people prefer to grow them in cages that also provide support.
Staking or caging tomatoes helps to keep diseases in check. It keeps them off the ground and increases important airflow that keeps the plants dry.
It also makes it easier to harvest ripe tomatoes, especially indeterminate cultivars that keep producing fruit.
Whether you are staking or caging your tomato crop, make sure that the stakes and cages are strong and long or high enough to carry the weight.
If you are growing indeterminate tomato cultivars, pinch off the tips of the main stem of young plants in early summer to encourage growth.
What to do if your tomato doesn’t bear fruit
If your tomato plants don’t produce fruits, you need to identify the reason. Then you can take action.
For instance, if it’s because they don’t get enough light, you should move them.
If you’re using fertilizer, check the nitrogen rates in the product. If there is a lot of nitrogen in the fertilizer, the leaves grow well but the plants tend to produce fewer tomatoes.
If they don’t get enough water, they probably won’t produce many flowers, and these are likely to drop. Increase your watering routine.
If you’ve spaced them too close together they tend to be more susceptible to disease which can also cause flowers to drop and result in no fruit. The same rule applies to all varieties of tomatoes including small cherry tomatoes.
If you find your plants have lots of flowers but no fruit, it’s either because it’s too hot, too cold, or the temperatures are too hot and dry.
There’s not a lot you can do about the last two scenarios except to make sure these conditions are good next time around.
In which season does tomato fruit grow?
Tomatoes do not like cool, spring air or soil temperatures, and because they need at least six hours of full sun during the growing season, they won’t grow in winter.
So, if you’re wondering which season tomato fruit grows best, it’s summer.
Climate conditions affect the growing season of tomatoes, but in general, they grow in summer all over the world. In areas that don’t get frost and don’t become overly hot and dry, you can grow them in late spring and early fall as well.