Growing Tomatoes Tomatoes

Succeed in Growing Tomatoes in Tennessee: Top Tips

Hey there, fellow Tennessee gardeners! Ever tried growing tomatoes in our good ol’ Volunteer State and ended up with more questions than tomatoes? Well, you’re not alone, buddy. Growing tomatoes here in Tennessee can be a bit like line dancing at a honky-tonk – it’s all about timing and technique. From understanding our unpredictable weather to choosing the right variety, and outsmarting those pesky pests – we’re gonna cover it all. So, get your gardening gloves ready, and let’s dive into the world of tomato farming, Tennessee style! Get ready to turn your ‘mater mayhem into a bountiful harvest.

Tomato Growing Regions

Sure thing! Buckle up as we take a fun ride across our Volunteer State’s diverse tomato-growing regions.

1. East Tennessee

Y’all, these here rolling hills and cool mountain breezes can be a bit finicky when it comes to tomato growing. The slightly chillier temps mean our ‘mater season kicks off a little later. But, don’t you worry East Tennesseans! With a little patience, your heirloom varieties will be tasting as sweet as Smoky Mountain dew.

2. Middle Tennessee

Welcome to the land of weather roulette, folks! One moment it’s as hot as a Nashville hot chicken, the next you’re reaching for your parka. But don’t sweat it (or do, depending on the day). With a little weather watching and good timing, your tomatoes will be as plump and juicy as a country ham biscuit.

3. West Tennessee

Out here in the flatlands, the tomato-growing season hits the ground running. Thanks to the warmth of the mighty Mississippi, y’all have the first pick of the tomato crop! But remember, with great power comes great responsibility. Keep those plants watered, or they’ll wilt quicker than a daisy in a boot stomper.

So, no matter where you are in Tennessee, remember: patience, care, and a good dose of southern grit will see your tomatoes through. Happy growing, y’all!

When to plant tomatoes in Tennessee

Alright, Tennessee folks, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of tomato farming, from the hills of the east to the flatlands of the west, and everywhere in between. Y’all ready?

1. Eastern Tennessee:

  • Micro-climate weather conditions: Cooler, like sweet tea on a summer day.
  • USDA plant hardiness zones: 6a-7b, tougher than a boot in a honky-tonk.
  • First/Last frost dates: Late April to mid-October.
  • Average growing season: About 180 days, almost as long as a church potluck.
  • Start seeds indoors: Around 6 weeks before the last frost.
  • Transplant Time: When soil temp hits about 60°F, warmer than a spring day in Knoxville.
  • Risk-free time to transplant outdoors: Between late May and early July.

2. Middle Tennessee:

  • Micro-climate weather conditions: As unpredictable as a country song love story.
  • USDA plant hardiness zones: 6b-7a, tougher than a Tennessee Titan.
  • First/Last frost dates: Mid-April to mid-October.
  • Average growing season: Around 190 days, longer than a Grand Ole Opry marathon.
  • Start seeds indoors: About 6 weeks before the last frost.
  • Transplant Time: When soil temp hits about 60°F, about as cozy as your favorite quilt.
  • Risk-free time to transplant outdoors: Between early May and early July.

3. Western Tennessee:

  • Micro-climate weather conditions: Warmer, like a Memphis BBQ pit.
  • USDA plant hardiness zones: 7a-8a, tougher than an old mule on a plowing day.
  • First/Last frost dates: Early April to late October.
  • Average growing season: A solid 200 days, longer than the Mississippi River.
  • Start seeds indoors: About 6 weeks before the last frost.
  • Transplant Time: When soil temp hits 60°F, about as toasty as a Southern cornbread.
  • Risk-free time to transplant outdoors: Between late April and late July.

Remember, these are just guidelines. Always watch your local weather and let Mother Nature have the last word! Now, go get those ‘mater plants started!

Tomato Plant Care Tips and Tricks in Tennessee

Alright, y’all! Tomato growing in Tennessee ain’t just throwing seeds in the dirt and hoping for the best. Let’s break it down, shall we?

Choosing the Right Tomato Varieties

Now, we all know variety is the spice of life. And when it comes to tomatoes, it’s the same deal. From ‘Beefsteak’ to ‘Roma’, your choice should match our good ol’ Tennessee climate and your tastebuds. Don’t be afraid to experiment, folks!

Preparing Seedbeds

Here’s where you roll up your sleeves and get dirty. Make sure your seedbeds are as cozy as a feather bed on a cold winter night. Rich, well-drained soil is the name of the game.

Studying the Climate

Tennessee weather is as unpredictable as Granny’s cooking. One minute it’s hotter than a firecracker, the next it’s cooler than cucumber salad. Understanding our climatic quirks is key to growing prime ‘maters.

Soil Preparation

Nothing like a good ol’ compost heap to get your soil ready. Add organic matter and keep the soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0. It’s like giving your tomatoes a home-cooked meal.

Fertilizing Tomatoes

Tomatoes like their food just like we do – balanced. Use a good quality, balanced fertilizer to keep ’em happy. And remember, don’t overdo it. Too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing real quick.


Think of watering like sweet tea on a summer day – you need just enough to quench your thirst but not so much you feel like you’re swimming. Deep watering at the plant base is the way to go.


In Tennessee, mulching is as essential as a banjo in a bluegrass band. It helps retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and keeps those pesky weeds at bay. Straw, grass clippings, or compost make excellent mulch.

Staking and Caging

Tomato plants need a little support as they grow, just like we all need a friend to lean on. Stake or cage your plants to keep those fruits off the ground.

Shading and Covering

Protecting your plants from extreme weather is crucial. A little shade during the hottest part of the day or a cover during a late frost is like offering your tomatoes a nice shady porch or a warm quilt.


Get your pruning shears out, y’all! Removing some leaves and suckers helps direct more energy to fruit production. It’s like trimming the fat off a good piece of steak.


The moment of truth! Harvest when the fruit is firm and fully colored. But don’t wait too long, or the bugs might beat you to it.

And that’s all there is to it, folks! Just remember, every tomato plant is a new adventure. Good luck on your gardening journey!

Tomato Varieties

Well, howdy, y’all! Looking to grow some homegrown tomatoes that’ll have your taste buds singing louder than Dolly Parton at the Grand Ole Opry? We’ve got tomatoes as varied as our Great Smoky Mountains and sturdy as our own Tennessee Titans. From quick growing tomatoes faster than a racehorse at the Nashville Speedway to those as big and bold as our country music legacy, Tennessee’s top 25 tomato varieties are here:

  1. Early Girl: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 50-60 days, VF. Early to the party like Elvis Presley’s music!
  2. Celebrity: Hybrid, Determinate, 70 days, VFFNT. Got more fame than the stars on Music Row.
  3. Roma: Heirloom, Determinate, 75-80 days, VF. Perfect for making marinara as rich as our music heritage.
  4. Better Boy: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 70-75 days, VFN. Better than a country song on a Friday night.
  5. Big Beef: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 73 days, VFFNT. As beefy as our Southern BBQ.
  6. Jet Star: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 70 days, VF. Fast and reliable like our Volunteer spirit.
  7. Sun Gold: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 55-65 days, Fusarium Wilt. Shines like the morning sun over the Smokies.
  8. Brandywine: Heirloom, Indeterminate, 80-100 days. As vintage as the Opry itself.
  9. Cherokee Purple: Heirloom, Indeterminate, 80-90 days. A tribute to our rich Native American heritage.
  10. Supersonic: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 79 days, VF. Quicker than a country two-step.
  11. Green Zebra: Heirloom, Indeterminate, 75-80 days. A unique treat as diverse as our Tennessee landscapes.
  12. Beefsteak: Heirloom, Indeterminate, 85-90 days. As hefty as our Tennessee Walking Horses.
  13. Black Krim: Heirloom, Indeterminate, 80-90 days. As deep as our roots in the South.
  14. Sweet Million: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 65 days, FNT. Makes tomatoes like Nashville makes music stars.
  15. Pink Girl: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 76 days, VF. Delicate and charming, like our Southern belles.
  16. Cherry Bomb: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 64 days, FNTMV. Small but with a kick, like our Tennessee whiskey.
  17. Golden Jubilee: Heirloom, Indeterminate, 80 days, VF. As grand as a sunset on the Cumberland River.
  18. Bush Early Girl: Hybrid, Determinate, 54 days, VFFNT. Ready to harvest before the Tennessee summer heat hits.
  19. Grape Tomato: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 65-70 days, VF. Tiny, but as flavorful as a Memphis dry rub.
  20. Heatmaster: Hybrid, Determinate, 75 days, VFFFNSt. Thrives even when it’s hotter than a Nashville honky-tonk.
  21. Mountain Spring: Hybrid, Determinate, 70 days, VF. As refreshing as a cool dip in the Watauga Lake.
  22. Lemon Boy: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 72 days, VFNASt. As bright as our Volunteer spirit.
  23. Candyland Red: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 55 days. Sweet like a Memphis Blues melody.
  24. Mountain Fresh: Hybrid, Determinate, 77 days, FFN. As crisp as the air atop Clingmans Dome.
  25. Tumbling Tom Yellow: Heirloom, Determinate, 50-55 days. As fun as a roll down the hills of the Great Smoky Mountains!

Now grab your gloves and get ready to garden, Tennessee. Y’all are in for a tomato growing treat!


Well, there you have it, folks! Growing tomatoes in Tennessee ain’t just a hobby, it’s a full-blown adventure. From choosing the right variety to turning soil and talking sweetly to your seedlings, every step is important. But remember, no two tomato plants are the same, just like no two Tennessee sunsets. So don’t be discouraged if your ‘maters don’t turn out perfect the first time. Keep an eye on our wild weather, be kind to your soil, and most importantly, enjoy the journey. After all, there’s nothing quite like biting into a juicy tomato you grew yourself. Happy growing, y’all!

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