Too late to start tomatoes and peppers?

Cleburne, TX

I haven't planted my seedlings yet is it to late for a middle to the end of March planting? I haven't even bought my planting mix. I looked at Home Depot but the bags looked at least a year old. Does this matter? What do y'all use for a planting mix? I'm new to starting seedlings as you can tell.

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)


It's not too late. In fact, it might be too early. Tomatoes and peppers grow fairly fast, and the plants can become fairly large in two months. If you have good lighting (greenhouse or fluorescent lights or HID light(s)) you can re-pot to larger pots and have some very large plants to set out when there is no frost danger. In the past, I have set out tomatoes in bloom and peppers with small peppers on them. The same with eggplants. I prefer Premier ProMix BX as my growing medium. I use it for both seed starting and for re-potting to larger pots. I have been adding some extra Perlite to the Premier ProMix BX

I notice that there is a new "high porosity" formula called Premier ProMix HP

I hope to find some of it available locally to try it. I might find that I don't need to add extra Perlite to it. So far I have been able to avoid paying shipping charges by purchasing my ProMix locally. If you grow your seedlings to a very large stage like I have been doing, you will need to provide them with some urea-free soluble nutrients and add some supplemental calcium in the form of Calcium Nitrate. There is a limited amount of calcium and other nutrients in the ProMix, but fast growing seedlings exhaust that supply in a few weeks.


Cleburne, TX

Thanks alot ZM maybe i'll start them this week then repot. I just got a Harbor Freight greenhouse.

Greeley, CO(Zone 5b)

I just got a HF gh too! It is so fun. I just planted my tomatoes (about 40 total) and expect to have some really hardy tomatoes to plant and sell this spring.
From what I have read, you can plant your tomatoes 4-6 weeks before you plant them out and they will do well. Most people say not to do it any earlier than 8 weeks, but w/ a greenhouse and planting up I think you can get away with it. I am going to experiment and plant some about 6 weeks before planting time and compare the harvest to see which does best.
Happy Planting!!!!

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Quote from utxhorns :
I haven't planted my seedlings yet is it to late for a middle to the end of March planting? I haven't even bought my planting mix. I looked at Home Depot but the bags looked at least a year old. Does this matter? What do y'all use for a planting mix? I'm new to starting seedlings as you can tell.

I learned about Roots Organics by Aurora from another DG member and have been very impressed with how quickly things germinated with it. But you will have to go to Ft. Worth or Arlington to get it. I told my neighbor friend about it and the only problem she's had is things grew so much faster than she expected and she has had to re-pot twice and it is a LONG time still until middle of March. I started my tomato seed on 2-6-11 and have seedlings already. We are using PVC lightstand with shop lights from plans that were posted here on DG.

Good luck.

Zephyrhills, FL

hey group ,my name is jim ,im looking into retiring at the end of this yr and to start a garden to grow some food. since my income will be shorter. i have about 2 arces to grow with and i live just out side of tampa so i can plant several crops durning the yr because of the weather. i have NO experance since i was a little boy.but i have time alot of it come retirement. so i could use alot od advice and ideals. i was studing on building a green house. looking to plant food to eat and to can so i need some advice on that too. love being in the kitchen , wife hates it cause i use every pot in thee house. email jdavis [email protected] tks

Greeley, CO(Zone 5b)

Check out the greenhouse forum.
There is so much info out there on the subject.

As for what to plant, plant what you like to eat. I would try a bit of everything and see what grows best for you.
Good luck.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

The time it takes to harvest peppers and tomatoes has nothing to do with when you sow the seeds. The time is counted from when you plant it in your garden. If a variety of tomatoes take 65 days to harvest, it is counted from the time that tomato plant is planted in the garden. This is the reason that it does not matter what size a tomato or pepper plant is when you plant it. It will not bear sooner if it is large.

The one good thing about planting tall tomato plants is that you can plant it deeper. It will produce roots all along the buried stem. That way the plant won't dry out as fast. Tomato plants can be increased from cuttings.

Greeley, CO(Zone 5b)

That's good to know. I am planning on keeping them in the greenhouse all summer and just putting them in some 5 gallon buckets made into self watering containers. Do you think that will make a difference? How soon should I put them in the buckets? I have already potted up 2x and it looks like most are hardy and large enough to plant out (if weather would let me). Several of them are ready to be potted up again, but I am running out of containers to put them in. I think I am going to get some 12-16oz cups to put them in this time.
As for pollination, I am going to keep it open since the bees seem to love coming in already, so that won't be a problem.

Hemlock, MI

Hey Blomma,
I never understood why it would not help to plant the seeds earlier indoors to get a headstart on the season. Do you know why it is only when you plant the seedlings in the garden that you start counting the days? Thanks.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

n8915p, Think about it. When you sow tomatoes early, or any other veggie, they have to be transplanted to the garden. It takes time for a plant to become established. Both tomatoes and pepper plants are heatloving plants and just sit there and sulk if the weather isn't to their liking, or the ground isn't warm enough. Also, tomatoes will not set fruit in cool weather.

The larger/ or older and plant is when planted in the garden, the longer it takes for it to become established. This is the reason why the days are figured from the planting time in the garden. All you gain is a larger plant that can be planted deeper. That's it!!

onyxwar You live next door to me but you are a bit warmer. If you are going to keep the plants in the greenhouse, it don't matter when you put them in there since you aren't planning to transplanting them to your garden. Plant them in the largest container you can get. Five gallons may not be large enough if they are the large growing variety of tomato.

For anyone that is interested, the photo is 1 gallon milk jug that serves as a miniture greenhouse against frost, over tomato plants. Held in place with a dowel stuck in the ground. An opening facing east is cut allowing the plant to harden off. Works better than cans.

Thumbnail by blomma
Greeley, CO(Zone 5b)

Is this from last year, or have you put them out already? I know that it has been chilly there since my DH has been working out there for the last 5 months.

Berne, IN

onyxwar the faster you get them into your buckets the faster the roots can spread out thereby helping the tomato plant to grow faster. You can also give them a boost by using Neptune's Harvest Fish and Seaweed. This fertilizer also works great throughout the growing season for larger tomatoes. Happy Gardening!

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Joe - I've heard a lot about that product. Do you order it online or buy it locally?

Greeley, CO(Zone 5b)

Thanks, I am hoping to get them in buckets mid April since the gh is very full of seedlings right now. I have cleared a bit of space by planting out broccoli, lettuce and Brussels sprouts and putting them under tunnels. I am hoping to put out more as the weather gets a bit better, I don't want to get too much out, even under tunnels, in case they don't work well enough.

Berne, IN

pirl it is sometimes hard to find locally. Most big box stores do not carry it. I buy mine online through the link I provided. What are you growing this year?

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Thanks. That's what I'll have to do.

Just the usual tomatoes, peppers, sugar snaps, cukes, beans, peas along with some potatoes, shallots, two Heirloom type tomatoes we've never grown - Grosse Cotelee and Yellow Queen.

I appreciate your help, Joe.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)


You might wnat to start one low-maintenance crop a year early, just to enrich the soil and maybe choke out some weeeds. Some cover crop like clover, peas, buckwheat, vetch or fall Rye is bound to improve your soil and put a little "green" back into your thumb.

And start saving leaves and lawn clippings.


Greeley, CO(Zone 5b)

Thanks Joe.
I have them in pots and got some Sea Magic from Burpee Seeds. I forgot I ordered it...anyway they were planted in there home the day after you replied and I have given them 2 doses of the sea magic. Out of the three, two have grown by 2x and the are blooming. The other one is growing well too, but not quite as large. Thanks for the input.

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or register to post.

Upload Images to your reply

    You may upload up to 5 images