This is my first planting season in Upstate SC (7b). I've got quite a few tomato plants that I think are ready to go into the garden. My problem is the *%$# weather (yes, I know it's all part of gardening) does not seem to be co-operating. I had expected to be planting out about mid April, but some of the plants are huge _now_. The problem arises because I had seedling disasters, and went ahead and bought some plants locally, because I was afraid I would'nt have any plants to put out. Even the smallest have now outgrown the lights. I'd like to start them "hardening off", but not quite sure if I've got it right. Right now they're in a window, with flourescent ceiling lights, but I know that's not enough for good growth. Right now we've got very cold temps (mid/upper 20's at night to upper 50's during the day for the next several days) so I don't have much choice :(. I'm planning to put the plants out in filtered sun (porch) at first, with temps about 70-75 during the day. Nights will still be in the 40's for a while, I think. I plan to bring them in at night until the nights stay above 50, and then plant them outside. Is that a reasonable approach? Is there anything else I should know? What if it suddenly gets up into the upper 80's (as it was doing before the cold snap)? The plants range between 5 and 12 inches tall, and have been re-potted (by me) once. I'd really like to have some success, so any help/advice would be very welcome.
I gave into temptation and planted out some when temperatures were warm and they grew terrifically--and after our temperatures down in low 20s they were reduced to a small amount of stalk in spite of my having covered them.. Don't know if they will come back.
I'm glad I planted some in pots and let them sit outside in garden so I brought them in and have some back-ups.
They said that it would be warming up around Wednesday but now they are saying it will be turning cold after warm spell. I want to see how cold it is going to turn before I put any in the ground!