Growing Tomatoes Along the Coast

1. Choose varieties wisely.
Grow short season tomatoes for best results; those that ripen in less than 70 days. (Look for DTM or Days to Maturity on the label) These will reliably flower and fruit in more temperate situations.

2. Stupice, Early Girl, Russian Queen, Juliet, Fourth of July, Siberian, Jaune Flamme, Golden Mama, Gardener’s Delight and many others fit the bill.
Yes, you might be able to grow other (and larger) varieties, if you can check off the rest of the list below

3. Warm up your garden plot and your plants.
Be sure to site your garden in an area that gets a full 8 hours of sun a day. You need more than the minimum 6.

4. Take advantage of warm south or west facing walls.
Plant there! Reflected heat and light matters in cooler zones.

5. Screen out coastal breezes.
Put up a temporary screen to block air movement or plant your garden behind the house or inside a fence or hedge. Or, build a fence or plant a hedge!

6. Plant in pots!
Containers warm soils quickly and thoroughly and that in turn warms up your plant. You need that, especially when fog or a cool stretch sets in. Check out our container planting guide here for more details.

7. Remember to fertilize.
Fertilize your container plantings every 10-14 days. In the ground every 5-6 weeks should suffice.

8. Pinch! Prune!
Heavy leaf cover creates shade and a cooler situation. Pinch at least some of the side branching on your indeterminate varieties so that sun can get into the center of your plants. We have a “To pinch or not to pinch” video on our Tomatomania FB page

9. Spread out your plants and separate the branching.,
Plant farther apart, then support your plants on fencing, wire or other sturdy planes that will allow you to separate and stretch the branching out instead of gathering it all together. More circulation will help you avoid problems and provide more sun for a greater percentage of leaves.

10. Plant two crops of tomatoes.
We know, it’s too hard to wait, so go ahead and plant when temps permit but plant a second crop in June. Your true summer growing season often begins after June 15.

Check out our Scott’s Growing Tips sheet here for more general tips and hints.