Its around the end of May when you may be thinking that it is too late to plant your tomatoes. But a tomato planting schedule depends very much on where you are in the world, how long your growing season is, whether you are using a greenhouse and what types of plants you are planning on using.
The time to maturity becomes quite critical when leaving things a little late in the season. For example in the UK about now, approaching the end of May, it is about as long as you can leave it before getting your plants in. That said there are 3 general groups of tomatoes that mature in approximately the following periods:
- Early varieties take around 50 to 60 days
- Mid Season take around 60 to 75 days
- Late season take around 80 to 90 days
Typically it is the size of the fruit that dictates how long they take to mature, so clearly cherry tomatoes will generally fit into the 50 to 60 day grouping, medium size fruits, such as plum tomatoes, fall into the 60 to 75 days and the larger beefsteak varieties will take around 80 to 90 days. So if you select the early to mid season varieties you should still be OK up to the end of May in Europe.
This is a general guide but obviously if you are selecting specific varieties and you have left it a bit late then refer to the label for the best time for planting and when you can expect to harvest the last of the fruit.
If you are totally organised and on top of everything, then ideally you will have sorted out a range of plants that cover all the maturing periods so that you have a plentiful supply of tomatoes from the early part of the season right through to the end. But if you are anything like me, you will be rushing to get your plants in at the last minute :-), well this year anyway.
Of course your tomato planting schedule changes when you are growing tomatoes from seed, typically you need to be planting tomato seeds around 4 to 6 weeks before you need the tomato plants ready for planting out. Not too difficult to work backwards and figure out when they should first be going into the pots. In Europe its from around the middle of March to the beginning of April.