What's the fuss?
Beginning in late March, we begin getting phone calls asking when we are going to have our local/organic tomato starts in stock. Due to the incredibly warm weather we had in late March, we were getting 10-15 calls a day with this question. In early/mid April, it got super warm and it seemed every second phone call was the same (we get about 50 calls/day)
It got me thinking, why is everyone so compelled to begin their tomato growing so early? Here are some thoughts:
1) Tomatoes are one of, if not the best fresh-from-the-garden crops. Can't beat a Sungold straight from the vine. So, the earlier they can be put in the ground, the closer we are to having that intoxicating experience.
2) Tomato planting symbolizes the end of the cool/rainy spring and a springboard to the glory days of sunny summer. With our grey Vancouver skies 6 months of the calendar, the sooner we can get them in, the sooner it seems this shift will take place.
3) They are an easy plant for the new or semi-new gardener who is often eager to get the ball rolling on the season.
4) The experienced gardener enjoys taking risks and to say that you have a ripe tomato in late June would be very gratifying.
The reality is, a tomato planted in May, 3 or 4 weeks later than its April counterpart will almost catch up in size and development as the warm June arrives. You may get a slightly earlier harvest from an April planting but is it worth the risk of a struggling seedling you've paid good money for, battling the possible rain and cool, overnight temperatures? We've been lucky the past two Aprils and with climate change, who knows what will happen. Guaranteed though, April will still be unpredictable. You may be tempted by the offerings at the local big box or garden centre; we say, be patient. Wait for overnight lows to be consistently over 10 degrees. You may not be rewarded with a super early Early Girl or Black Krim, but at least you avoid the risks.
Speaking of tomato frenzy, ours arrive this week, fresh from our amazing local supplier, Friesen Farm. Tomato starts do not get any better than this. Trust us.