Growing Tomatoes in Ohio
There are three main requirements that tomato plants have no matter where you are: sunshine, water, and soil that is well-drained and rich in terms of nutrients.
More sunshine equals larger yield, providing that there’s plenty of water and lots of nutrients.
In June in Ohio, you’ll want your tomato plants to receive six hours and more of sunshine each day. With as much as 12 hours and you’ll potentially enjoy a ton of fruits!
How to Propagate Tomato Plants in Ohio
Six or seven weeks prior to the soil temperatures rising to 60 degrees F, you can start your tomato seeds off under soft-white fluorescent lights. There’s no need to invest in grow lights as these are costly. Soft-white lighting is ideal.
If you pop over to Lowes or to Home Depot you can get your hands on shop light hanging fixtures. These cost around $8 or $9 each.
For less than $25 you can get a couple of shop lights, together with four soft-light bulbs, as well as a cheap timer (to turn the lights on and off).
Start your tomato seeds off in trays. Fill the trays with a seed starter mix or you can use Jiffy pellets if you wish.
The trays should always be well-drained. The lighting ought to be around an inch or two above the level of the soil/ substrate.
You’ll want the air temperature to be a minimum of 67 degrees F. That is a minimum.
Ensure your lighting is switched on for 12-14 hours each day (which is why the timer is so important).
After the seeds are popping up through the substrate adjust the lighting a little higher so that they – the lights – are about an inch from the leaves. If you position the lights too high you’ll find that your tomato seedlings get leggy – skinny and tall.
You can position your tomato seeds and seedlings in a bay window that faces toward the south. In this case, you’ll not require lighting. Any other window will likely not get enough light.
When the seedlings are starting to crowd one another (when they are around 2 inches in height), or when the roots are beginning to emerge from the Jiffy pellets, it’s time to transfer. Move your seedlings to 3.5-inch pots or something of a similar size.
Mum pots are good for this. 16-ounce plastic cups are also good – punch holes in the base of each cup.
Once the seedlings reach 12-14 inches high it’s time to transplant once again.
Make sure the roots do not dry out when transplanting. So it’s best to ensure the new soil mix is moist.
Plant your tomato seedlings deeply – the soil can reach up to the lowest-level leaves. This helps to encourage more rooting. Remove the basal leaves by plucking them off rather than tearing off them.
Keep your tomato seedlings under lighting for 12-14 hours daily. Continue to do so until the exterior temperatures have risen to 70 degrees F – at least during the occasional afternoon.
If temperatures remain above 52 degrees F during the night it’s fine to leave your tomato seedlings outside overnight at this stage.
Don’t expose your tomato seedlings/ plants to temperatures any less than 52 degrees F.
When to plant tomatoes in Ohio?
After the soil (either your garden soil or outdoor container soil) temperature is 62 degrees F or above it’s time to plant outdoors.
Planting too soon will mean that the roots can get chilled. If the roots are badly chilled your tomato seedlings/ plants will likely not recover.
Planting Tomatoes in Ohio
When planting your tomato seedlings outdoors in Ohio make sure you plant them deep.
Pluck off the lowest couple of leaves and plant your seedling to this level or even up to the next two leaves farther up the stem.
Any part of the stem that is in contact with the soil will form roots.
If you have a thermometer be sure to use it. The soil temperature should be at least 62 degrees F.
You can pour a bucket of warm water into the planting hole prior to planting your tomatoes outside. This will moisten the soil which is very important, and will also warm the soil which is equally as important.
While it’s certainly not ideal to plant your tomatoes outdoors with tomato fruit forming, it’s perfectly fine if there are flowers.
When positioning in the final planting spot – outdoors – gently tease the plant roots out so they don’t form a ball in the hole.