As the weather warms up, we're getting antsy to plant tomatoes! Tomatoes are such a rewarding crop: relatively easy to grow, and if all goes right, you'll reap a delicious, bountiful harvest. It's easy to forget, however, that edible tomatoes are native to tropical Central and South America, not the cooler climes of the Pacific Northwest. Up here in Oregon, while April daytime temperatures are usually lovely, evenings are often too chilly. Temperatures below 50°F can stunt growth and delay flowering, and a few cold, rainy days may spell doom for your plants.
In general, it’s best to wait until May to plant tomatoes in Portland, and you still might want to have some freeze cloth handy in case temperatures drop. If you want a jump start, consider using a Kozy Coat. These are upright plastic barriers that, once installed, act like a miniature greenhouse for each plant. And if you set them up a week in advance in the area where you intend to plant, they will even warm up the soil, setting the stage for tomato bliss!
Tips to Prevent Blossom End Rot
One of the most common problems tomato growers run into, Blossom End Rot, is generally caused by a lack of calcium and phosphorus. Luckily, this is a pretty easy problem to avoid.
Tomatoes are heavy feeders and need rich soil. Add lots of bone meal and organic tomato food like E.B. Stone’s Tomato and Vegetable Food. To make doubly sure you don’t suffer rotten bottoms on your otherwise gorgeous ripening fruit, pick up some Bonide Rot Stop, a calcium elixir that is sprayed directly on the leaves of the plant which are able to directly absorb the nutrient boost.