Do these tomatoes have a chance at this time of year in Seattle?

It’s a silly question, I know, and I already went to gardening center and bought normal-sized tomato plants. But for arguments sake, is there any chance to see actual ripened tomatoes on these? I had a few failed starts this year and I realize these are super late but I just didn’t want to throw them away when they finally came out. It’s been decades since I’ve tried growing tomatoes and I honestly don’t remember how fast they develop (and Seattle is also a colder place than where I grew up).

Depends when you get your first frost. Seed packages say days to maturity.

That’s the tricky thing - Seattle doesn’t really get the frost, at least not the way most places experience it. It just gets gradually colder and wetter, and then gets stuck somewhere above the freezing point. Eventually it will start dipping below the freezing point and you may see things frosted over in the morning but this can happen at any point throughout the winter, sometimes at the end of winter, or may not happen at all. It’s usually brief and most things just stay green. The usual challenge here is for plants to get enough “heat / sun” to ripen, rather than a hard cut off point because of frost.

Which is the reason it’s hard - off the top of my head, those tomatoes should be ready in 60-90 days which is enough time in theory. But then even summer is kind of on the cooler side here and I am worried if those 60-90 days, will become more like 120-150 days and I’ll just end up with green tomatoes that fall off sometime in December.


You will get some harvest, some tomatoes keep going until frost kills them in October or November.

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Thanks, that’s good to know! I am planning to keep them either way, for the science. Even if chances are zero, I’ll at least know if any of these tomatoes do better/worse in my area. But also curious how low I should set my expectations.

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Much depends on your soil temperature. Out in the open, PNW spring rains and cloudy days can keep the soil cool until well in to June. I would want to see blooms by July 4 for good chance of Labor Day ripening.

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Grow Celebrity or Sungold these are always the first ones to pick in my garden and pretty close to each other. I get ripe ones around the same time as Early Girl but EG tomatoes are gross texture and flavor so I don’t waste my time but some people love them maybe it’s just my hot climate? I hear Fourth of July is a very early one I haven’t tried it yet.

I’m not an expert by any means but I’ve been growing tomatoes in Seattle for the last 10 years and I would say your chances may be better this year than usual since we are off to a warmer than normal start for the season and the current long term trend looks to continue this pattern. The real issue here is getting a harvest before the heat drops off and the rainy season starts in September/October which slows ripening and causes the tomatoes start splitting and getting moldy.

I say go for it and report back here at the end of the season!

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My Z6a Southern Rockies climate also has a circumstance where they just run out of heat before they freeze.

I had limited success planting Russian cultivars. Early Girl of course. The local long-time nursery promotes Sungold cherry tomatoes.

I usually leave them on the vine till mid to late Oct. If they’re still green at picking put them in a paper box with a banana and close the lid tightly. Almost all tomatoes I’ve done this with turn red and the eating quality is still good I’ve found.

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Just a quick update in case anyone stumbles on this in the future. Some tomatoes are slowly growing and developing and it remains to be seen if they manage to catch up and produce something. But most were completely frozen in time - the tiny sprouts I put into the ground almost 4 weeks ago look nearly unchanged. I gave up on those and replaced them with the big plants I got from a local nursery.

I went over my notes to see what I planted where and the few plants that show progress are the ones with shorter “days until harvest” and also one that is described as a “Russian heirloom”. I guess the lesson here is that if you mess with tomatoes in a cold place, choose tomatoes that do well in a cold place (breaking news, I know).


I suspect this is a particularly bad year for late tomato experimentation anyway - usually we are reliably in the 50’s at night by now but not this year :woman_shrugging:


Had a 43 the other night; people in the neighborhood are just now planting their ~ foot-tall tomato plants.
Not sure if wall-o-water or other warming devices are still in common use.

I haven’t planted out any tomatoes yet, and even my greenhouse starts have been sluggish to get going with overnight lows around 50 most nights in there. I’m planning to buy starts in about a week and give up on my own starts for the most part.


I planted out all my tomatoes, pepper, squash 3 weeks ago when we had that nice heat week. They are about a foot and half tall and growing. I had thrown away a few pepper seedlings month and a half ago, they too are alive and have grown 4" tall without any care.

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Yeah, I largely gave up and left only a few plants that were actually growing, and mostly just to see how far they get. It was pretty funny replacing those tiny starts with mature tomato plants from the nursery, with all the flowers and everything.

Chili peppers were even worse. They were in the ground for a month and all of them showed absolutely zero growth. I replaced them with nursery starts too, although it was a bit of an adventure to find the starts because I am trying to grow a specific pepper.

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strange that they aren’t doing well in the green house. in my experience tomatoes don’t like being inside, they quickly get root bound and start wilting leaves after 2 or 3 weeks. They do like growing outside slowly but catch up quick as soon as the sun comes out.

I would recommend not planting out either peppers or tomatoes in Seattle until at least mid-June. Any earlier and you risk stunting them. In previous years I’ve planted out starts in early May and a second round in mid-June, and by the end of summer, the ones planted later are significantly larger and producing sooner.

The Maritime Northwest Garden Guide from Tilth Alliance (a highly recommended publication) says to plant out in mid-May “under a cloche” and to keep covered “as long as possible”:

On another chart, they recommend starting those tomato plants in early March indoors, so that would mean growing indoors for 2+ months and planting out under cover in May (or uncovered in June).

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I’ve had lots of those! Here’s the last month for my yard here in Seattle, definitely not “happy tomato” weather… our warmest low was around 52°F and average low is mid-40s:

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We planted our Tomato grow boxes outdoors around two weeks ago, keep them covered with clear plastic during nights until the sun can hit them next day, rainy days just keep them covered. They seem to be coping pretty well. While in our greenhouse I misted them each day with Epsom salts and that made them quite sturdy before going outdoors
Kent, wa