ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Early Tomatoes - Tips for Harvesting Early Tomatoes This Spring

Updated on November 19, 2015

Home Grown Tomatoes


Getting Started Early

We all get the urge to try and get a jump on starting warm weather plants before it's really due time. Getting those tomato plants in the ground early somehow just makes us feel like spring is really here, and we've beaten Mother Nature at her game. At the same time, we know that it's way too easy to get those tomato plants started and then experience the heartbreak of a late frost that will do the plants in.

Here are a some suggestions of things you can do to get started safely, and be the first to get those early spring tomatoes out of your garden.

Starting Tomatoes in Colder Weather

It's important to choose a good variety to get early tomato production. There are many types of tomato plants that have been bred to do well in colder weather. This means they will be a little more frost tolerant, but just as importantly they will usually set fruit in colder weather as well. Polar Baby and Polar Beauty are a couple of examples of cold weather tomatoes. Make sure you check your growing zone on the back of the seed package to coordinate with your area.

There are two basic approaches to starting tomatoes in colder weather. Since tomatoes are not cold hardy like lettuce or radishes, we need to take care they are not exposed to frost. One way is to isolate a few plants in a favorable growing environment like a container of some sort. The alternative is to plant the tomatoes in the garden, and then to improve the growing conditions around the plants to make them more robust in the colder temperatures of early spring.

Container Grown Tomatoes

This is probably the more robust approach, but practically speaking this is going to be limited to a few plants that are the early tomato candidates.

The most inexpensive approach is probably to use one of the upside down tomato planters like the Topsy Turvy. Once of the advantages to these is that if there is a hard freeze you can simply move the planter to a place like the garage or basement that will protect the plants from those freezing temperatures, and then to move it back when things warm up. In addition, you can hang it in a place where it will be in full sunlight most of the day, and because the soil bag is exposed to the sun it will warm quickly and give the tomato plants a growth boost. It's not uncommon for plants in these hangers to bear fruit two weeks before similar plants in the ground because of the additional warmth and sunlight to be had.

For larger plants a container on the ground like the EarthBox planter is another alternative. It has casters so it can be moved in cold weather as well, but can also handle larger plants because of its size.

Wall O Water getting some early spring action

Wall O Water at work in the garden.
Wall O Water at work in the garden. | Source

Wall O Water

Wall O' Water Season Extender
Wall O' Water Season Extender
We have used these for several years when we get the plants out too early. They work very well and give us the extra jump we were looking for early spring tomatoes.

Protecting Tomato Plants in the Garden

In the garden a couple of other techniques can be put to use.

Protective cloches, or as they are often called, Wall o Waters, can do a great job of protecting young tomato plants and warming them quickly. They take advantage of the "thermal mass" of the water, which simply put says that the water in the tubes absorbs the heat of the day, and then at night will help keep the tomato plants warmer. This fights off not only the threat of frost, but I've seen them protect tomato plants through and ice storm.

Coupled with this you can use some mulch under the tomato plants. A dark color is good as it will absorb the heat of the sun. One very popular item these days are the red mulches. Not only do these heat the soil, but the red light that is reflected in the the part of the light spectrum that tomato plants can use effectively, so the reflected light helps the tomato plants grow more quickly.

Use one or more of these techniques, and you may find you are the first in your neighborhood to be harvesting tomatoes fresh from your spring garden.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)