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Growing for Your Kitchen: Growing Tomatoes in Northern Nevada

Search any list for top vegetables to grow in your home garden and tomatoes are always a favorite. Tomatoes are easy to grow and high-yielding, and anyone who’s tasted a garden-grown tomato knows that the flavor of homegrown tomatoes is unbeatable! Growing tomatoes in Northern Nevada doesn’t have to be difficult, it all comes down to timing and varieties.

When to Plant Tomatoes in Northern Nevada

What do we mean about timing? Well, tomatoes DO NOT like frost. Most varieties of tomatoes can only withstand down to 40 degrees F and they don’t even like that for very long. The ideal temperature range for most tomatoes is between 55 and 85 degrees F. That means you need to pick your tomato plants OR start your seedlings accordingly. A few tips:

  • If starting seedlings make sure to start them about a 6-8 weeks before the last frost date- make sure to start them indoors in a warm (65 – 85 degrees F) and sunny location. Building a seed starter can be easy and provide a better chance for your seeds to grow, see our seed starting items here.
  • If purchasing a #1 or larger sized tomato, keep it in a sunny and warm location till 2 weeks after your last frost date

How to Choose a Tomato Plant for Northern Nevada

  • Height and bushiness of the plant are important, particularly for gardeners growing tomatoes in small spaces. Check to see whether the variety you select is “determinate” (bush type-produces all at once–best for small spaces) or “indeterminate” (vine type-produces throughout the season and grows in all directions).
  • When choosing a variety consider the flavor, size of fruit and shape that you’d like.
  • Another way to decide is to think of all of the ways you’d like to use your tomatoes. For instance, if you want to use your tomato crop for preserving or for making tomato paste, you’ll want to select a variety that has a strong tomato flavor and lasts a long time like a Roma Tomato. If you’d like a snacking tomato that can be eaten plain, you might want something bursting with flavor and juicy like a Sungold Cherry Tomato.
  • Pay attention to the label! Especially where it says “Days Until Maturity”. “Days Until Maturity” on the back of Moana Nursery tags means the number of days from planting until harvest. For Northern Nevada you want to choose a variety that matures in 70 days or less for transplants (85 days for seeds).

How to Plant Tomatoes in Northern Nevada

  • Like any beach-goer, Tomatoes LOVE the sun! Plant your tomato in a sunny spot that gets at least 8 hours of sun a day. Make sure to dig a deep hole for your tomatoes and mix in about 30% of a soil conditioner (we suggest G&B Organics’ Soil Building Conditioner)
  • Mix in a little vegetable fertilizer, one with higher phosphorous (we suggest using G&B Organics’ Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer). Want to learn more about reading fertilizer bags, see our article on the Basics of Fertilizers.
  • Tomatoes like to be planted deep, make sure to have the root crown (your tomato’s current soil level, where the plant’s stem meets the soil) at least 2-3 inches below the soil. We recommend planting the tomato at a 45-degree angle. The plant will stick out of the ground at an angle, use a tomato cage or twine and stakes, to support it growing straight.
    • Make sure to cut all branches and leaves off of the buried part of the stem
  • Water deeply and continue to irrigate so the soil stays evenly moist (we suggest using drip irrigation in the morning for the best results)

For more information on keeping tomatoes thriving in our high desert climate, see Plant Doctor, Jon Bruyn’s video below.

If you have any questions, stop by any one of our three Moana Nursery garden centers or contact us online.

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