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Growing Tomatoes in the Pacific Northwest 


For a healthy harvest of tomatoes in summer, Seattle gardeners have to help their plants along. But if you pick the right variety, have protection against the cold, and feed and water appropriately, you can have tomato success!

Late Winter - Early Spring

Start seeds indoors.

You'll need to decide which tomatoes you want to grow. There are two types of tomato plants: determinate (good for containers and smaller garden) and and indeterminate (growth continues until frost - these need to be staked or caged to hold them up. 

Then there are cherry tomatoes  slicing, and sauce tomatoes. Pick a variety that grows well in our shorter growing season. See our lists below. 

March - April

Plant outside but Protect! 

While the weather is still cool in the spring, use protection (such as Walls-of-Water, pictured behind these words), or cloches) and your tomato plants will yield much better than your neighbors who didn't use any!

Tomatoes should not be planted outside until the weather stays above 50º at night. 

May - September

Feed and Water Consistently 

Water deeply and regularly. Feed your tomatoes with a good tomato fertilizer. Reapply an organic feed mid-season, especially if you want the plant to continue production into the early fall.

Keep your eyes on your tomatoes plants to check for blight or bottom rot. Apply calcium spray (Rot Stop) if needed.

Also check for pests. Stink Bugs, White Fly, occasionally tomato horned worm, and rodents (especially common in some of Seattle's P Patch gardens.) Captain Jack's Spray is usually effective for the insect pests.

Types of Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

In cool weather years, cherry tomatoes may be the best and most consistent producers. Two varieties get our votes as the best cherry tomatoes for both taste and productivity: Sungold and Sun Sugar. Taste for both is fantastic and either should be in any tomato lover's garden. Either plant will also provide most households with an abundance of sweet flavorful tomatoes for eating fresh or to put into salads and other dishes.

Our Favorite Varieties include:

Black Cherry, Chocolate Cherry, Husky Cherry, Oregon Cherry, Sun Sugar, Sungold, Sweet Million, Yellow Pear

Sauce/Plum Tomatoes

Roma type tomatoes are easy to grow and tend to mature faster and produce better than full sized slicing tomatoes in cooler summers. In addition, their high yields of deliciously tasty fruit ensure that even a novice gardener can produce a large batch of flavorful and healthy, home grown tomato sauce, year after year! 

Our Favorite Varieties include:

Costoluto Genovese, Glacier, Jaune Flamme, Japanese Trifele, La Roma, Patio, Principe Borghese, Roma, San Marzano, Sweet Olive, Viva Italia

Slicing Tomatoes

Slicing tomatoes can do well here in the Pacific Northwest, especially the varieties that have been specifically proven to excel in our climate. That being said, in exceptionally cool and wet summers, the slicing tomatoes might not get enough heat and light to ripen properly. This is where products that mimic greenhouses can make a huge difference in holding in and increasing heat around the plant. This can make the difference between harvesting and not harvesting slicing tomatoes in a cool, wet summer. 

Our Favorite Varieties include:

BeefsteakBig Beef, Black Krim, Black Prince, Black from Tula, Brandywine, CelebrityChampion II, Defiant, Dr. Wyche's Yellow, Early Girl, Golden Sweet, Gold Medal, Goliath, Green Zebra, Legend, Momotaro, Mortgage Lifter, Moskovich, New Girl, Old German, Oregon Spring, Paul Robeson, Persimmon, Siletz, Striped German, Stupice, Sweet Italian, Taxi, Yellow Brandywine

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