Growing tomatoes in the Edmonton area can be a rewarding experience for garden enthusiasts. The cool climate can present some challenges, but with the right techniques, you can produce a bountiful harvest in your own backyard.
In this guide, we’ll cover helpful tips for beginners and answer frequently asked questions to help you get started on your tomato-growing journey in the Edmonton.
- Choose the Right Tomato Varieties
In the Edmonton area, the short growing season and cool temperatures require selecting cold-tolerant tomato varieties. Some popular options include ‘Early Girl,’ ‘Siberian,’ ‘Glacier,’ and ‘Manitoba.’ These varieties are known to perform well in cooler climates, producing an abundance of fruit even with a shorter growing season.
2. Start Seeds Indoors
Due to the short growing season, it’s best to start your tomato seeds indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. This will give your seedlings ample time to grow and strengthen before transplanting them outdoors. Use a seedling tray and a high-quality seed-starting mix to ensure optimal germination and growth. Ensure the lighting is a bright south facing window or use grow lights.
3. Harden Off Seedlings
Before transplanting your tomato seedlings outdoors, it’s crucial to harden them off. This process involves gradually exposing your plants to outdoor conditions over a period of 7-14 days. Start by placing them in a sheltered area outside for a few hours each day, gradually increasing the time they spend outdoors. This will help them acclimate to the cooler temperatures and prevent transplant shock.
4. Choose the Perfect Planting Location
Tomatoes need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day to thrive. Select a sunny spot in your garden that is protected from strong winds. Also, ensure proper soil drainage to prevent root rot and other moisture-related issues.
5. Use Raised Beds or Containers
Raised beds and containers are an excellent choice for growing tomatoes in the Edmonton area. They provide better soil drainage and allow the soil to warm up faster, which is essential for cold-tolerant tomato varieties. Fill your beds or containers with a mix of high-quality garden soil, compost, and aged manure for optimal growth.
Q: When should I transplant my tomato seedlings outdoors?
A: In the Edmonton area, it’s safe to transplant your tomato seedlings outdoors after the last frost date, which is typically around late May or early June. However, make sure to monitor the weather and only transplant when the soil has warmed up and there is no risk of frost.
Q: How far apart should I space my tomato plants?
A: For optimal growth, space your tomato plants about 18-24 inches apart within a row and space rows about 36-48 inches apart. This will ensure proper air circulation and minimize the risk of disease.
Q: Should I prune my tomato plants?
A: Depends on if it is an indeterminate or determinate tomato.
Indeterminate is what needs the suckers in the crotches pruned, determinate does not need to be pruned.
Pruning can help increase airflow and encourage the production of larger fruit. Remove any suckers (side shoots) that form in the crotch between the main stem and a branch. However, be cautious not to over-prune, as too much pruning can reduce overall yield.
Q: What is the difference between an indeterminate and determinate tomato?
A: Indeterminate tomatoes are like vines that grow and produce fruit continuously until they die. They need support because they can grow up to 10-12 feet tall. They produce smaller fruit, but for a longer time.
Determinate tomatoes are like bushes that grow to a specific size, around 3-4 feet tall, and stop growing. They produce larger fruit, but for a shorter time. They don’t need as much support as indeterminate tomatoes because they are naturally more compact.
To tell the difference, look at the growth habit of the plant. Indeterminate tomatoes keep growing and producing new branches and leaves, while determinate tomatoes stop growing once they reach their size.
Indeterminate tomatoes produce fruit over a longer period, while determinate tomatoes produce fruit all at once over a few weeks.
Q: How often should I water my tomato plants?
A: Water your tomato plants deeply and consistently. Do not let the soil completely dry out. It’s best to water in the morning and at the base of the plant to minimize evaporation and prevent fungal diseases.
With the right variety, location, and care, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious tomatoes. Remember to start your seeds indoors, choose a location with plenty of sunlight and shelter from the wind, provide plenty of water and fertilizer, and most importantly – enjoy the fruits of your labor!
If you haven’t started your tomatoes yet, don’t worry – you still have time! If starting tomatoes from seeds makes you nervous a great option is transplanting our expertly-grown plants into your garden. Salisbury Greenhouse and Salisbury at Enjoy did the seed-starting work for you! New varieties of tomatoes are being brought out onto the floor daily! Stop by one of our locations, Salisbury Greenhouse in Sherwood Park or Salisbury at Enjoy in St. Albert.
We do have a great selection already and as more varieties become ready, we will have more available for you!
We currently have:
🍅 Early Girl
In 4” pots at Salisbury at Enjoy & Salisbury Greenhouse.
Please note our stock and variety are always changing, so if you have your heart set on a tomato variety– give us a call prior to driving out.