Moving tomatoes outside


I have sown Gardener's Delight tomato seeds indoors, and they have grown well; about 30cms each now with good leaf coverage.

I do not have a greenhouse, and would like to plant them outside in suitable growbags (this is my first year at tomatoes too.) Do you think if I start to harden them off, I can plant them outside soon?

I would keep them inside sooner, but they seem to be attracting small flies... Any advice about outdoor tomatoes is really welcome! Thanks!


  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 11,918

    As soon as you are fairly sure there won't be a frost you can put them out to harden off. You can always bring them in again at night if it looks like being very cold.Then you can plant them out about a week later. Normally, by now tomatoes can be planted out, but it's been a cold wet spring.

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener LeicsPosts: 6,359

    Good advice from Busy-Lizzie about hardening them off.  Given the cold, wet weather, you need to give them a bit of protection when putting them outside, too.  The trick is to try and keep the rain off and protect from wind.  If you can fashion something out of canes and clear plastic sheet (ie put the plastic sheet up 2 sides of 4 canes and a flap over the top, you will have a much better chnace of them cropping.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • LokelaniLokelani Posts: 112

    It depends where you are in the country.

    I'm near the south coast & have started hardening things off, still with some trepidation. It has been such a late start this year.

    Last night was meant to be the last really cold one according to the weather, the minimum is showing nearler 10 degrees from now on, but only just. 

    Further north I would guess there could still be frosts, so just start out in the day & in at night for a bit, or covered with fleece. I don't think tomatoes really like being much below 10 degrees. 

    Small flies can be a sign of overwatering, although I think they are very common, so not necessarily the case. 

  • DaisyheadcaseDaisyheadcase Posts: 315

    I bought some F1 Shirley from B & Q last week and planted them in big containers and stuck them outside.  So far they're still alive!  I'm in Worcestershire, so fingers crossed.

  • I'm in the South-East, and have been hardening them off in a cold greenhouse (with missing panes) for over 2 weeks, they got a couple of purple edged leaves from the cold and have gone very limp in the sun, but they look very healthy now. 


  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,168

    I'm in East Anglia; I started hardening of the toms about 3 weeks ago; in G/H at night, out in the day for 10 days, then out all the time, still in 1 litre pots, then planted them in really big bags a few days ago. They are in a very protected, warm sun-trap area of the garden and seem to be not only surviving but actally growing.

  • Bf206Bf206 Posts: 235

    I've just put 10 of my plants into their final 25 litre pots - I'll do the other 10 when I've replenished the compost! I've had them in a cold frame for the past week or so, hardening off. I was probably a bit late in doing that as they just weren't getting enough light inside so they're not the healthiest but hopefully I've given them a chance now...

  • Bf206Bf206 Posts: 235

    So, I put some of my toms out about 5 days ago now. They weren't in the best of shape beforehand - light-starved from being kept inside but at least out of the cold.

    Anyway, attached is a progress report of sorts since. The angle isn't all that helpful but what I wanted to show was that the older growth (bigger, lower branches) is generally quite yellowy/green, with 'papery' leaves whereas, touch wood, the newer leaves and branches have got a markedly darker, healthier look about them.

    The lowest branches I snipped off, as per italophile's ever-helpful advice beforehand,and I planted them all deeply in these 25 litre containers but I'm now wondering whether, where the plants have got these less healthy looking leaves - you can see holes in them here which I think is just the wind whipping through them as they're so thin - do I simply snip these off as well? Obviously I don't want to cripple the plants by taking too many leaves off at this stage, but are they a help or a hindrance? Thank you!



  • ItalophileItalophile Posts: 1,647

    You're right, Bf, you don't want to take off too much foliage. The plants need it for photosynthesis. It's a matter of striking a balance. The plant looks all right. A bit spindly still, but that's a legacy of the lack of light earlier in its life. Leave the foliage for now, give them as much sunlight as possible, even if it means moving the pots around to capture the sun. And don't overwater.

  • Bf206Bf206 Posts: 235

    Great, thanks. Yes, I've seen your tips re overwatering before so am always careful!

    That's reassuring. I picked one of the less healthy looking plants to show you...

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