SEATTLE — Ciscoe says there are some tricks to growing tomatoes in the Pacific Northwest, and the main one is to avoid this common pitfall:
"Sometimes people make a few mistakes - and the biggest one we do is we plant them too early. You get a cold night and it only takes one night in the 40s, it'll turn the whole tomato purple, it means it killed the chlorophyll in the leaves, that tomato is not gonna perform for the whole rest of the summer, throw it in the compost pile, go buy another one."
Planting them in pots is a good way to keep soil temperature above 50. Don't forget to add fertilizer when you pot them up and certain types better here also. Ciscoe recommends short ripening-time tomatoes like Stupice and a cherry tomato called Sungold. "Sungold wins every blind taste test I do, it is so good. I used to have straight sideburns until I took one and bit into it, I've had curly sideburns ever since, oh la la!"
Be sure to add a trellis to the pot when you plant, doing it later will damage fragile roots. To protect your new tomato from the low nighttime temperatures that are common here, consider wrapping it in crop cover, or remay at night. It will keep the plant up to six degrees warmer, and is light enough to not damage the foliage.
Still worried about your tomato getting too chilly? Pick up a wheeled pot mover from a local nursery, or mooch your kids skateboard, and roll your tomato plants into the garage at night whenever the forecast says temps will be in the 40s. If you take these steps to protect your plant, Ciscoe says you'll have a bumper crop later in summer.