Tomatoes seedlings - too late?

I have started the tomatoes indoor from seeds first week of march. Since 3 weeks, they were out for hardening and now having daily afternoon sun. The problem is the night temperature could be as low or slightly below 10ºC/50ºF these days, I take them back indoor at night. (it’s not usual that April - May is that cold - cf problem of wine region)

Today, I notice that among them, a variety of cherry tomatoes are starting to make buds! The plants are now about 25-30cm tall (10-12 inches). I still want the plant to grow bigger and more branches than to produce fruits instantly.
What should I do now?

  • Plant them outdoors even the day/night temperature is still low? Day temperature is around 15ºC (60ºF)
  • Should I get rid of the buds or just leave them on the plants?

Thanks a lot!

Sounds like you started them too early. Have you checked the soil temperature? Planting in cold soil with cold ambient temperatures will not make for good production. Remove the buds at once along with any sucker branches and keep trying to harden off until temperatures improve.

I would not plant them out yet.

Garden centres in the UK have only just started to offer tomato seedlings for sale. They’re about 8cm tall at present. I probably won’t buy any until the end of the month when I can be fairly sure they won’t be checked by the cold.

My plan is to plant up one or two large pots with a combination of cherry tomatoes, red flowered nasturtams (for the edible leaves) and, probably, basil (or another herb)

As others have said, pinch off all flowers/buds or immature fruit. You want the plants to be at least 1/3 of full size before fruit sets or else the plant will stop growing.

Tomatoes can handle temps of 50F-55F, but don’t thrive until the low is at least 60F. If it gets less than that they don’t do as well. They can handle temps as low as 33F, but when the temp is less than 50F they stay in night time mode, and use sugars instead of making them, so growth is stunted.

In your case I would pinch off flowers as I said above, and bring in at night for the next week or two, until the lows are consistently in the 50F’s.

Just checked the night soil temp now at midnight, it is 9ºC/48ºF.

Thanks for your advice, I have just pinched off all the flowers! You are right about waiting for another week or so. I have checked the forecast for the next week, it will be raining a lot and night temperature will dip even further.

I will plants some nasturtiums, for edible purposes. I have tried growing marigold around the tomatoes as suggested, but they were all eaten by the slugs.

Does growing basil next to tomatoes really help improving the flavour? I have tossed some pots of basil and mint beneath, I didn’t notice any difference for the tomatoes, except the herbs didn’t appreciate much the shade.

It looks like Paris and NY have exactly the same weather forecast for the next ten days.

I planted too early this year, just a few days ago when we had day temps in the 80’sF, and nights of 60F, and I am not repotting and bringing in two dozen chili pepper and two tomato plants. So mine either make it or not.

Some 3 weeks ago, just for a test, I planted a tomato (that I didn’t want to keep) outdoor to see. The whole plant shivered and vanished in 2 days.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold