Growing tomatoes in zone 1 can be challenging due to the short growing season and extreme weather conditions. The short growing season means that tomatoes need to be planted early in the season in order to have enough time to mature before the first frost. The extreme temperatures in zone 1 can cause tomatoes to become stressed and not produce fruit. Tomatoes also require a lot of sun and water, which can be difficult to come by in zone 1. In order to have a successful tomato harvest, gardeners must pay extra attention to their plants and make sure they are adequately protected from the elements.
USDA Hardiness Zone 1 Climate
Hardiness zone 1 is one of the most extreme climates in the world, with frigid winter temperatures, short growing seasons, and short days. The climate is ideal for cool-season crops like lettuces, carrots, and potatoes, but it can be challenging to grow warm-season crops like tomatoes.
The growing season in zone 1 is usually just two to four months long, and the days are often too short for tomatoes to ripen. However, there are some varieties of tomatoes that can be harvested in under 90 days, such as Early Girl, Juliet, and Stupice. These tomatoes require a lot of attention, however, and are best grown in a greenhouse or in containers that can be moved indoors during cold weather.
The extreme climate of zone 1 can make it difficult to grow a wide variety of vegetables, but with careful planning and selection of the right varieties, it is possible to have a successful garden.
Tomato varieties that do well in zone 1
Growing early-harvest tomatoes is essential in zone 1, due to the shortened growing season. Some varieties of tomatoes are ready to harvest in under 60 days, which is ideal in the short growing season of zone 1. I recommend one of the following varieties:
- ‘Early Girl’ Tomato – 55 Days to Harvest
- ‘Sun Gold’ Tomato – 55 Days to Harvest
- ‘Sungold’ Tomato – 50 Days to Harvest
- ‘Stupice’ Tomato – 52 Days to Harvest
- ‘Fourth of July’ Tomato – 49 Days to Harvest
- ‘Sweet Million’ Tomato – 45 Days to Harvest
- ‘Oregon Spring’ Tomato – 50 Days to Harvest
- ‘Celebrity’ Tomato – 70 Days to Harvest
- ‘Yellow Pear’ Tomato – 60 Days to Harvest
- ‘Gardener’s Delight’ Tomato – 52 Days to Harvests
When to start tomatoes indoors in zone 1
If you want to get an early start on cultivating tomatoes, begin growing the seeds indoors 4-6 weeks prior to the final spring frost in your area, regardless of the tomato variety you’re growing. In zone 1, you’ll want to start your tomato plants indoors from April 14th to May 1st.
You may want to get them going even earlier than that and plant them in a large pot ahead of planting them outdoors, just to give them even more of a head start. To start tomato seeds indoors:
- Select a planting container. Choose a container that is at least 6-8 inches deep, with holes in the bottom for drainage.
- Fill with a seed starter potting soil.
- Plant 2-3 tomato seeds ⅛ inch deep in the soil and cover.
- Water the soil until it is moist but not soggy.
- Place the container in a warm, sunny spot indoors and keep the soil moist.
- When the seedlings reach 2-3 inches tall, thin them out so there is only one seedling per container.
Hardening off your tomatoes
Hardening off tomatoes that you’ve started indoors before planting outdoors is important to ensure they are able to thrive in the outdoor environment. When tomatoes are started indoors, they become accustomed to the warm and more stable environment. When planted outdoors, they are exposed to more extreme temperatures, wind, and sun. Hardening off tomatoes helps them slowly adjust to their new environment by exposing them to these elements for an extended period of time.
The process of hardening off tomatoes begins by slowly introducing them to the outdoors. Start by placing them in a sheltered spot, such as a porch or a partially shaded area, for a few hours each day. Over the course of a week, gradually increase the amount of time they are kept outdoors and the amount of sun they are exposed to. After a week of hardening off, the tomatoes should be ready to move to their final outdoor planting location.
When to plant tomatoes in zone 1
It’s generally safe to plant tomatoes outdoors when there is no risk of frost or freezing temperatures. In most climates, this means waiting until at least late spring or early summer. In zone 1, your final freeze date is around June 4th, but be mindful of your weather forecast. If it seems like you’re in for a late freeze, wait to plant your tomatoes!
When to harvest tomatoes in zone 1
When tomatoes have turned a deep red (or the ripe color of their particular variety) and have no green spots visible, they are ripe and ready to be picked. If there are still green patches on the tomato, it has not yet ripened and should remain on the vine. The ideal way to pick ripe tomatoes is to cup the tomato in your hand and give it a gentle twist- it should come off the vine with ease. When in doubt, you can leave it on the vine an extra couple of days, or harvest the entire branch of tomatoes and allow to ripen on the vine on your window sill.