Growing tomatoes in zone 2 can be a challenge due to the short growing season. In this zone, the growing season is typically 90 days or less, with the last frost occurring around May 22nd and the first frost hitting around the end of August. Planting tomatoes too early can result in them being damaged or killed by frost. Planting too late can mean that the tomatoes will not have time to mature before the first frost. In this article, we’ll talk about when to plant tomatoes in zone 2 and which are the best varieties for cold climates.
USDA hardiness zone 2 climate
USDA Hardiness Zone 2 is a cold climate zone located mainly in the northern regions of the United States and Canada. The frost-free growing season typically begins in late May and ends in early September. The average annual minimum temperature is between -50°F and -40°F.
Tomatoes grow fairly well in a USDA Hardiness Zone 2 climate, but the growing season is much shorter than in warmer zones. Gardeners in zone 2 will need to plan accordingly, planting their tomatoes early to ensure they have time to mature before the first frost, usually around the end of August.
Tomatoes prefer warm conditions and need plenty of water, so it’s important to choose varieties that are disease-resistant and well-suited to cooler climates. Gardeners can also extend the growing season by planting in cold frames or cloches, and by adding a layer of mulch to help retain moisture and keep the soil warm.
Tomatoes grown in Zone 2 may be smaller than those grown in warmer climates, but with the right care and attention, they can still be a delicious addition to your garden.
When to start tomatoes indoors in zone 2
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 2, you’ll want to start your tomato plants indoors around April 10th
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.
Tomato varieties that do well in zone 2
Growing early-harvest tomatoes is essential in zone 2, 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 2. 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
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 2
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 2, your final freeze date is around May 22nd, but be mindful of your weather forecast. If it seems like you’re in for a late freeze, wait to plant your tomatoes! And don’t forget to go through the hardening-off period before planting.
When to harvest tomatoes in zone 2
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.