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Night temperatures?

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Night temperatures?

Post  littlesapphire on 5/8/2012, 8:02 pm

I've read several places that tomatoes and other summer plants should not be planted outside until the night temps are at least 55 degrees. I've been bringing my little tomato plants that I'm hardening off inside every night because I was afraid for them being out there in 45 degree temps.

So I decided to check out my local average temps over the growing season, and I got a shock! Shocked We only get average night temps over 55 degrees ONE DAY OF THE WHOLE YEAR! And as you can imagine, it's in August!

I've never had problems setting out my tomatoes or peppers when Mel suggests I put them out, though. So I'm wondering, is it really true that you shouldn't put those plants outside before the night temps are above 55? And if it's not true, what's the real number?

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Re: Night temperatures?

Post  givvmistamps on 5/8/2012, 11:56 pm

This is a good question! I would love to hear the answer...even if it doesn't pertain to this year for me. (We rarely get below 60 this time of year.)

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Re: Night temperatures?

Post  Goosegirl on 5/9/2012, 7:10 am

I have no idea what the real answer is, but I do know that in my area if I waited until nighttime temps were in the 50's to put out my toms I wouldn't be able to get a crop! Mine go out (usually) as soon as I know the frost danger is over, which still often means 40's at night. If my seedlings survive my indoor care long enough to get in the outdoor box, they do just fine! I can honestly say I have never lost or damaged my toms to the temps on the front end of the season. (Hardening off improperly is another story!) I just make sure I plant varieties that mature within my limited growing season and even if they do get slowed down here and there with low night temps they bounce back just fine.

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Re: Night temperatures?

Post  rowena___. on 5/9/2012, 12:09 pm

the main issue is one of production, not survival. the plants will only produce fruit if they have the kind of conditions they prefer, which includes temps. i set my tomatoes out well before night temps are that high, but i keep them protected with either plastic if it is really cold or tobacco cloth if it is just a little too cold. i live much further south, and our problem is really the opposite of yours--by the time you have night temps in the 50's, we have daytime temps almost 100º! so i offer warmth in cooler weather and shade in hot weather. my goals are maximum production with as little synthetic input as possible, so i aim for the longest season i can get. for my family i need a minimum of 100 quarts of tomatoes put up by thanksgiving, so i stretch the seasons as much and as far as possible. but if you just want to enjoy fresh produce in season, you can be a little more lenient and flexible.

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Re: Night temperatures?

Post  cheyannarach on 5/9/2012, 12:18 pm

We are in the same zone, I always wait until mid June to put out my tomatos. Our night time temps are very similar!

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Re: Night temperatures?

Post  givvmistamps on 5/9/2012, 12:23 pm

Rowena, how many tomato plants do you need to grow to put up that much tomato sauce, and how many people are you feeding? I have multiple uses I want to put my tomatoes to: ketchup, chili, BBQ sauce, lasagna and spaghetti, salsa, dried cherry tomatoes, etc. I want to figure out how many plants I'll need in future years so that I can move us off the store-bought and into home-canned, and my growing season is fairly close to yours, so I'm hoping it's close enough for a fair comparison.

Sorry to hijack this post!

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Re: Night temperatures?

Post  rowena___. on 5/9/2012, 12:52 pm

@givvmistamps wrote:Rowena, how many tomato plants do you need to grow to put up that much tomato sauce, and how many people are you feeding?

we are a family of three but i aim to put up enough to provide for five people so that i have enough to share. i grow 30 tomato plants and aim for an average of 15lbs. of fruit per plant. (some will give more, some less). i'll make up for the shortage when i visit the amish in the fall. i can buy a bushel of roma tomato 2nds from them for about $10. i'll buy enough tomatoes to finish up the canning and some more to put in the freezers and the dehydrators. i try to spread out my storage so that if one system fails (power goes out for an extended period of time, or the city floods--both of which have happened here), i don't lose an entire year's food in one catastrophe.

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Re: Night temperatures?

Post  givvmistamps on 5/9/2012, 6:18 pm

Thanks Rowena! Now I have a better idea of how much more growing space I'll need to add to my garden for tomatoes. Hopefully I'll be able to expand my guys' horizons food-wise, and will need to add space for other things in the future as well. Smile For this year I'll have to visit local organic growers to get most of my tomatoes, since we only have four Roma, one cherry and one slicing tomato plant.

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