When to Plant Tomatoes in New York: Timing Tips & Advice

when to plant tomatoes in new york

Growing tomatoes in New York can be a rewarding experience, but timing is crucial for success. Whether you’re starting tomato seeds indoors or planting them directly in your garden, the right timing can make all the difference in the quality and quantity of your harvest. That’s why I’m here to provide you with tips and advice on the best time to plant tomatoes, so you can enjoy delicious, juicy tomatoes in your backyard garden all season long.

Key Takeaways:

  • Timing is crucial for successful tomato growing in New York.
  • Understanding New York’s growing zone and climate can help you choose the right time to plant tomatoes.
  • Starting tomato seeds indoors and transplanting seedlings can maximize your harvest.

Understanding New York’s Growing Zone and Climate

Before planting tomatoes in New York, it’s important to understand your local growing zone and climate. In New York, the growing zones range from 3b to 7a, depending on your location. This information is crucial as it will help you determine the best time to plant your tomatoes and the specific varieties that thrive in your area.

The climate in New York is generally classified as humid continental, with hot summers and cold winters. This means that the best time to plant tomatoes is in the late spring when temperatures have warmed up and there is no longer any risk of frost.

When it comes to soil, New York has a diverse range of soil types, including clay, loam, and sand. It’s important to know your soil type, as this will help you prepare the soil for planting and choose the right tomato varieties.

Tip: If you’re unsure about your growing zone, climate, or soil type, contact your local cooperative extension office for guidance. They have experts who can provide you with valuable information specific to your area.

To summarize, understanding New York’s growing zone, climate, and soil types is essential for successful tomato gardening. It will help you choose the right tomato varieties, planting time, and soil preparation techniques.

New York's Growing Zone

Best Time to Start Tomato Seeds Indoors in New York

If you want to get a head start on your tomato growing season, starting your seeds indoors is a great option. In New York, the best time to start your tomato seeds indoors is 6-8 weeks before the last estimated spring frost date. This is typically around mid-April, depending on your location within the state.

When starting your tomato seeds indoors, it’s crucial to use a high-quality seed starting mix and to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. A temperature of around 70°F is optimal for germination, so consider using a seedling heat mat if your home is cooler than this.

StepDays Before Last Frost
Start tomato seeds indoors42-56 days
Transplant seedlings outdoors10-14 days after last frost

Once your seeds have germinated and have developed their first set of true leaves, it’s time to transplant them into larger containers. This will give them enough space to grow before they’re ready to be moved outdoors.

Remember to keep your indoor seedlings in a warm and bright location, such as a south-facing window. Consider using a grow light if natural light is limited.

Tomato seedlings

By starting your tomato seeds indoors at the right time, you’ll have strong and healthy seedlings ready to move outdoors at just the right time for optimal growth and yield.

Transplanting Tomato Seedlings Outdoors in New York

After starting tomato seeds indoors, it’s time to transplant them outdoors. This should be done when the seedlings are around 6-10 inches tall and have developed their first true leaves. The ideal time for transplanting in New York is usually after the last frost date, which is around mid-May to early June depending on your specific location.

Before transplanting, prepare the soil by adding compost and organic fertilizer to enrich it and ensure optimal growing conditions. Choose a sunny location that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day and has good drainage.

Step 1Water the seedlings thoroughly.
Step 2Choose a cloudy day or transplant in the late afternoon to avoid exposing the seedlings to intense direct sunlight and heat.
Step 3Dig a hole slightly deeper than the height of the root ball and twice the width.
Step 4Gently remove the seedlings from their containers and loosen the roots if they are tightly packed.
Step 5Place the seedling in the hole with the top of the root ball level with the surrounding soil.
Step 6Fill the hole with soil and gently press down around the stem to remove any air pockets.
Step 7Water thoroughly and mulch around the base of the plant to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Spacing is also an important consideration when transplanting tomato seedlings. Make sure to leave enough room between plants to allow for proper air circulation and growth. A spacing of 24-36 inches between plants and 48-72 inches between rows is recommended.

Transplanting tomato seedlings in New York

Continue to water your newly transplanted seedlings regularly, but be careful not to overwater as this can lead to root rot. Fertilize every two to three weeks with a balanced organic fertilizer to ensure healthy growth.

Directly Planting Tomato Seeds in New York Soil

If you prefer to plant tomato seeds directly in your New York soil, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, tomatoes are warm-weather plants that need plenty of sunlight to thrive, so choose a spot in your garden that gets at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day.

Next, make sure the soil is warm enough before planting. Tomatoes need warm soil to germinate, so wait until the soil temperature reaches at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a soil thermometer to check the temperature of your soil.

When planting tomato seeds directly in the soil, it’s important to give them enough space to grow. Plant the seeds about 1/2 inch deep and 1 to 2 feet apart, depending on the variety. You can plant multiple rows of seeds, leaving at least 2 to 3 feet between each row.

Once your tomato seeds have germinated and begun to grow, make sure to water them regularly and provide support as needed. As the plants grow taller, you may need to stake them or provide a trellis to keep them from falling over.

when to plant tomatoes in new york

Tip: If you’re planting tomatoes in a colder region of New York, consider using a raised garden bed or planting in containers. This will allow you to control the soil temperature and provide extra warmth as needed.

Extending the Tomato Growing Season in New York

Growing tomatoes in New York can be challenging due to the state’s short growing season. However, with the right techniques, you can extend your tomato growing season and enjoy fresh, juicy tomatoes for longer.

One method to extend your tomato growing season is by using protective covers. Frost protection blankets, row covers, and cold frames are great options for shielding your plants from cold temperatures, wind, and heavy rain. These covers can help regulate temperature and moisture levels, creating a microclimate that’s favorable for tomato growth.

Another way to extend your tomato growing season is by selecting appropriate tomato varieties. Look for varieties that have a shorter maturity period, such as Early Girl, Glacier, or Stupice. These varieties can mature in as little as 50 days and are ideal for planting in early spring or late summer.

In addition to protective covers and selecting suitable tomato varieties, you can also consider intercropping. Intercropping is the practice of planting multiple crops in the same space, allowing you to get more out of your garden. Consider planting fast-growing crops, such as lettuce or radishes, alongside your tomato plants. These plants will mature quicker and can be harvested before the tomatoes take over the space.

Extending the Tomato Growing Season in New York

Finally, consider using fertilizers and supplements to promote healthy plant growth. Liquid seaweed, fish emulsion, and compost tea are excellent options for providing your tomato plants with the necessary nutrients throughout the growing season. These supplements are readily available at your local garden center or can be made at home using organic materials.

By using protective covers, selecting appropriate tomato varieties, intercropping, and adding fertilizers and supplements, you can extend your tomato growing season and enjoy a bountiful harvest all summer long.


Timing is crucial when planting tomatoes in New York. By understanding the growing zone and climate, considering the different methods of planting, and extending the growing season, you can enjoy a successful tomato harvest.

Choose the Method that Suits You Best

Whether you prefer to start your tomato seeds indoors or directly plant them in the soil, there’s a method that will suit your preferences. Each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages, but with proper planning and preparation, you can achieve great results.

Maximize Your Harvest

To maximize your harvest, consider extending the growing season by using protective covers, choosing appropriate tomato varieties, and following the tips we’ve provided in this article. These simple techniques can help you keep your tomato plants healthy and productive for longer.

With these timing tips and advice, you’ll be on your way to growing delicious tomatoes in your New York backyard garden. Happy planting!

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