Since April, people have been asking why their tomato trees looked so strange. People, come on!
Tomatoes are tropical plants that like the heat. If you haven’t planted tomatoes yet, it’s not too late. They’ll catch up and even pass earlier plants. If you did, the sad tomatoes show that you planted them too soon.
The old saying that you should plant veggies on Mother’s Day isn’t as helpful as keeping an eye on the weather in your area. Since soil temperatures change more at night than during the day, the long, cold spring kept soil temperatures low. Tomatoes won’t do well until nighttime temperatures hit the mid-50s, which often doesn’t happen until mid-June.
You may see a tweet about growing tomatoes in Oregon here.
When to plant tomatoes in Oregon: When is it too early, or too late, to start planting? https://t.co/2zjL9rVtJg
— Statesman Journal (@Salem_Statesman) May 27, 2023
Because it was so cold in the spring, heat-loving plants like tomatoes, beans, corn, squash, and peppers had to be planted later than normal. Tropical plants do best when the days and nights are both hot. All of them will be set back by cold weather. In fact, plants can lose ground if it gets too cold, not just stop growing.
Tomatoes can be grown successfully in the Northwest, but the chance of success goes up if you take care of them. Choose short, thick starts instead of tall, thin ones if you want strong tomato plants.
Young tomatoes should be planted sideways in holes, with 3 to 6 inches of the main stem buried in the soil. Some plants would die, but tomatoes can grow new roots from the “neck” that is buried.
Deep planting makes stronger root networks that help plants stand up straight in the summer when they are fully loaded. This is especially important for tomato plants that don’t stop growing and will get very big if they aren’t trimmed.
It’s easier to get tomatoes to grow if we can keep them happy and warm. Studies show that plants that are less worried grow faster and have healthier crops than plants that are just trying to stay alive. Giving tomatoes what they need when they need it will make the plants stronger, speed up their growth, and make the fruit bigger, tastier, and better for you.
It’s best if your tomatoes get full sun for 10–14 hours a day. If they don’t, they might do better in big containers than in the ground.
Give each plant a pot that can hold between 2 and 3 cubic feet of soil. The black plastic tree pots are great because the soil warms up faster than the ground and stays warmer at night.
Set pots on big saucers with wheels BEFORE you put soil in them. Then you can move them around to follow the sun and roll them under cover at night when it’s cold or raining.
The following links will take you to resources with further details about Oregon:
- The Oregon State Police Will Be on a 24-hour Patrol This Coming Weekend.
- Memorial Day Dog Adoptions at Oregon Humane Society Are Half-price.
Tomatoes are more likely to get diseases on their leaves if they stay wet overnight, so covering them can help. When it’s cool in the summer, cold air can also kill tomatoes and peppers.
Use the biggest, strongest tomato cages you can find to give plants room to grow. Once the height and width of an indeterminate plant reach 3 to 4 feet, cut back the largest branches to encourage fruiting over endless growth.
Bubble wrap the sides of the cages, bubble side out until the nights get warmer. Make a flap to cover the cage tops at night or when it’s raining. As the weather gets warmer, you can take off the layers that keep you warm and leave the top layer in place.
By the time the plants grow too big for the cover, they will have made a lot of tasty, fat tomatoes.