Everyone who grows tomatoes would love to have them ripen earlier in the season. In their quest for this, many people plant them in their gardens at the first sign of warmer weather. If you live in the Midwest, you know there will be more cold before the warm is here to stay.
Here is what I have discovered in the many years I’ve been growing tomatoes:
Plants that are put in the warm soil at the correct time will outperform plants that have been suffering in the cold. I have also had later plants catch up to earlier plants and produce earlier.
Tomatoes are native to central and south America. They won’t be killed by temperatures below 50 degrees – BUT – they won’t be happy about it either.
Earliness of tomatoes can be better achieved by choosing a variety that produces in a shorter number of days. Smaller tomatoes usually produce more quickly than jumbo tomatoes. Determinate plants usually produce more quickly than indeterminate plants. If you have room for several plants, choose a couple of early varieties.
If you have the ability and are willing to make the effort, you can protect your early planted tomatoes with a cover whenever the overnight temperature is forecast to be below 50 degrees. Don’t forget to uncover them in the morning.
Eggplant has similar requirements and peppers are even more particular.