Growing Tomatoes Tomatoes

Uncover When to Plant Tomatoes in Kentucky for Best Yield

Howdy, Kentucky green thumbs! Ready to roll up your sleeves and dig into the juicy world of tomato plantin’? Whether you’re as green as an unripe tomato or as seasoned as grandma’s skillet, we’ve got tips hotter than a July day on when to plant tomatoes in Kentucky. From choosin’ the ripest varieties to timing that perfect planting window, and even wrangling those frost dates, we’ve got your overalls covered. Let’s hitch a ride on this tomato tractor and get these red beauties poppin’ in your Kentucky garden. Y’all in? Let’s get growin’!

Tomato Growing Regions

Oh, alrighty then, fellow Kentuckians, y’all ready to get your hands dirty and grow some of those juicy, red delights we call tomatoes? Well, buckle up ’cause here comes the grand tour of Kentucky’s tomato-growing regions!

Now, don’t go plantin’ your tomatoes willy-nilly, we got some strategic thinkin’ to do:

Bluegrass Region

Ah, the heart of our fair Commonwealth, where the grass is as blue as my old hound’s eyes. Soil’s as fertile as a champion racehorse here, so your tomatoes will be prancin’ outta the ground.

Pennyroyal Plateau

Now, don’t let the name fool ya, ain’t no fancy dinner plates here, just some mighty fine land for growin’ tomatoes. Keep an eye on the rainfall though, y’all!

Western Coal Field

Now, I reckon y’all might be thinkin’ – coal? Tomatoes? But hear me out, there’s plenty of reclaimed land here, ripe for the plantin’. Just remember to add some compost for a nutritious boost.

Mississippi Embayment

Down by the river, the soil’s as rich as Colonel Sanders before the chicken. Your tomatoes will be singin’ the blues in no time.

Cumberland Plateau

Now this area’s a bit rocky, like your cousin Earl’s moonshine, but with some good old-fashioned elbow grease and plenty of organic matter, you’ll be eatin’ tomatoes in no time.

Knobs Region

Small hills, big tomatoes! Get those seeds in the ground and watch ’em climb faster than a squirrel up a sugar maple!

Now, y’all got your regions. Remember, the best gardener is a patient gardener. And maybe a gardener with a good sun hat. So get out there and grow some beautiful Kentucky tomatoes!

When to Plant Tomatoes in Kentucky

Well, howdy, partner! We’re about to embark on a tomato-filled adventure across the rolling hills of Kentucky. Now, fetch your favorite rocking chair and a glass of bourbon as we tour through our bountiful tomato growing regions:

Bluegrass Region – where the grass ain’t the only thing that’s blue!

  • Micro-climate weather conditions: Just as unpredictable as Granny’s mood swings – hot, humid summers and cold, wet winters.
  • USDA plant hardiness zone: Primarily Zone 6b – where plants are as tough as old boot leather.
  • First frost date range: Early November, about the time the horse races wind down.
  • Last frost date range: Early April, when the redbuds start a-showin’ off.
  • Average length of growing season: Around 180 days, longer than a Baptist sermon.
  • Start seeds indoor: Try for 6-8 weeks before the last frost, which is around mid-February.
  • When to transplant: When the soil is warmer than a cat on a hot tin roof – around 60°F.
  • Risk-free time range to transplant outdoor: Roughly between late April and early October.

Western Coal Fields – Coal’s not the only treasure here, ya know!

  • Micro-climate weather conditions: Summers hotter than a stolen jalapeno, and winters colder than a mother-in-law’s love.
  • USDA plant hardiness zone: Zones 6b and 7a – for tomatoes as hardy as a coal miner’s spirit.
  • First frost date range: Late October to early November, right when the hunting season kicks off.
  • Last frost date range: Late April, just in time for the Derby!
  • Average length of growing season: Around 190 days, as long as the waiting line at the County Fair BBQ stand.
  • Start seeds indoor: Aim for about 6 weeks before the last frost, so around mid-March.
  • When to transplant: Wait till the soil warms up to 60°F, roughly the warmth of a good flannel shirt.
  • Risk-free time range to transplant outdoor: You’re looking at early May to late September, perfect for growing those juicy tomatoes.

Pennyroyal Plateau – It ain’t about the money, honey! It’s all about the soil.

  • Micro-climate weather conditions: Warmer than a well-cooked biscuit in summer, cooler than sweet iced tea in winter.
  • USDA plant hardiness zone: Predominantly Zone 6b – just about as hardy as a Kentucky farmer.
  • First frost date range: Around early November – when the leaves fall faster than the Wildcats’ football rankings.
  • Last frost date range: Late April – when the bluegrass starts strumming.
  • Average length of the growing season: Roughly 180 days – about the time it takes to finish a good ole Kentucky bourbon barrel.
  • Start seeds indoor: Mid to late February.
  • When to transplant: When the soil hits around 60°F – about as warm as a mare’s nuzzle.
  • Risk-free time to transplant outdoor: Mid-May to early October.

Mississippi Embayment – Muddy Mississippi, meet our tasty tomatoes!

  • Micro-climate weather conditions: Wetter than a fishing hole in the summer and cooler than a cucumber in the winter.
  • USDA plant hardiness zone: Zone 7a – a zone as warm-hearted as our Southern hospitality.
  • First frost date range: Early November – just when the critters start hibernating.
  • Last frost date range: Mid-April – when the tulips start to tango.
  • Average length of the growing season: A generous 200 days – about the time it takes to brew a perfect batch of moonshine.
  • Start seeds indoor: Late February.
  • When to transplant: When the soil’s around 60°F – about the temperature of a slow-moving creek.
  • Risk-free time to transplant outdoor: Early May to late September.

Cumberland Plateau & Knobs Region – Rocky soil, smooth tomatoes!

  • Micro-climate weather conditions: Summers as hot as a pepper patch, winters as cool as a frosty mint julep.
  • USDA plant hardiness zone: Primarily Zone 6b – plants as resilient as a prize-winning thoroughbred.
  • First frost date range: Mid to late October – when the harvest festivals are in full swing.
  • Last frost date range: Late April – just in time for the spring horse races.
  • Average length of the growing season: A solid 180 days – or about as long as it takes to plow a field with a stubborn mule.
  • Start seeds indoor: Late February to early March.
  • When to transplant: When the soil warms up to about 60°F – warmer than a quilt on a winter’s night.
  • Risk-free time to transplant outdoor: Late April to early October.

Remember, tomatoes might be fruits scientifically, but here in Kentucky, we treat ’em like the veggies they are at heart. Happy plantin’, y’all!

Tomato Plant Care Tips and Tricks in Kentucky

Well, saddle up, partner! We’re about to wrangle some tomato plants like a true Kentucky gardener.

Pickin’ Your Partners

Not all tomatoes are created equal, y’all. Some like it hot, some like it not. So choose wisely based on our unpredictable Kentucky weather. Try ‘Celebrity’, ‘Better Boy’, or ‘Roma’ – they’re as reliable as your granny’s pecan pie recipe!

Seedbeds: The Tomato Nursery

You wouldn’t raise a foal in a doghouse, right? Same goes for your tomato seeds. Give ’em a good start indoors in a seed tray with plenty of light and warmth – just like a cozy Kentucky quilt.

Kentucky Weather Report

If you can predict Kentucky weather, I’ve got a bridge to sell ya. But keep an eye out for those frost dates and get your babies in the ground when it’s consistently warmer than a summer afternoon on the porch swing.

Groundwork: Soil Prep

Now, we Kentuckians know that the secret to good bourbon is in the water. And the secret to good tomatoes? It’s in the soil. Add compost, adjust pH, and make it as fluffy as a down pillow.

Feeding Time: Fertilizing

Tomatoes are hungry plants – they need food more than a teenager after football practice. So, use a balanced fertilizer with all the good stuff – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Tomato Thirst: Watering

Tomatoes need water like a bluegrass band needs a banjo. Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged – you’re growing tomatoes, not rice.

Tomato Blanket: Mulching

Mulch keeps the soil cool and moist, and it also keeps the weeds down better than Aunt Betsy’s homemade weed killer. Use straw, shredded leaves, or compost.

Tomato Towers: Staking and Caging

Tomatoes need support just like we all need a good friend. Stake ’em or cage ’em to keep those vine-ripened treasures off the ground and away from critters.

Tomato Sunscreen: Shading and Covering

Just like you, tomatoes can get sunburned. On those hotter-than-a-firecracker days, shade cloth can protect your plants.

Tomato Haircut: Pruning

You wouldn’t let your hair grow wild and free (unless you’re into that), so don’t let your tomatoes. Pruning keeps plants healthy and productive.

Tomato Treasure: Harvesting

The moment you’ve been waiting for, better than finding the last piece of fried chicken at the picnic. When your tomatoes are red (or yellow, or purple), twist ’em off gently and enjoy!

There you have it – how to pamper your tomato plants better than a Kentucky Derby thoroughbred!

Tomato Varieties

Howdy, Kentucky! Y’all ready to get your hands as dirty as a coal miner’s boots, but for a much more delicious payoff? Nothing’s quite as satisfying as picking a fresh, ripe tomato off the vine, especially when it’s been nurtured from seedling to salad star in your own Bluegrass backyard. Hold onto your Derby hats, because we’re about to sow the seeds of knowledge with a Kentucky-fried list of the top 25 tomato varieties for our neck of the woods.

  1. Celebrity: Hybrid, Determinate, 70 days, VFFNTA. Star power that rivals the Kentucky Derby.
  2. Better Boy: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 70-75 days, VFN. Better than a day at the horse races.
  3. Roma: Heirloom, Determinate, 75-80 days, VF. For a sauce as thick as our accents.
  4. Early Girl: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 50-60 days, VF. Early like a rooster’s crow in Appalachia.
  5. Beefsteak: Heirloom, Indeterminate, 80-100 days. As hefty as a full-grown Kentucky buffalo.
  6. Brandywine: Heirloom, Indeterminate, 80-100 days. As sophisticated as a sip of bourbon.
  7. Cherokee Purple: Heirloom, Indeterminate, 80-90 days. As deep and rich as our state’s history.
  8. Sweet Million: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 65 days, FNT. As sweet as a slice of Derby pie.
  9. Jet Star: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 70 days, VF. Faster to your salad bowl than Secretariat on the home stretch.
  10. Golden Jubilee: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 72 days, TMV. As golden as the dome on our State Capitol.
  11. Mountain Fresh: Hybrid, Determinate, 77 days, FFN. As fresh as the air in the Daniel Boone National Forest.
  12. San Marzano: Heirloom, Indeterminate, 85-90 days. For the perfect marinara, smoother than a bluegrass tune.
  13. Super Fantastic: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 70 days, VF. As super as our blue moon BBQ sauce.
  14. Big Beef: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 73 days, VFFNT. As hearty as a hot brown sandwich.
  15. Amish Paste: Heirloom, Indeterminate, 85 days. Simple and traditional, just like a Shaker Village quilt.
  16. Lemon Boy: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 72 days, VFNASt. As bright as the summer sun over Lake Cumberland.
  17. Rutgers: Heirloom, Indeterminate, 74 days, VF. Dependable like a Kentucky-made Corvette.
  18. Green Zebra: Heirloom, Indeterminate, 78 days. Wilder than a romp at Mammoth Cave.
  19. Sun Gold: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 55-65 days, Fusarium Wilt. Brighter than a sunrise over the Cumberland Gap.
  20. Juliet: Hybrid, Indeterminate, 60 days, FNTMV. Sweeter than a serenade on a Louisville summer night.
  21. Black Krim: Heirloom, Indeterminate, 80-90 days. As bold and unique as a Kentucky wildcat.
  22. Cherry Gold: Heirloom, Indeterminate, 70-75 days. As shiny as a new pair of riding boots.
  23. Pink Brandywine: Heirloom, Indeterminate, 90-100 days. Southern charm in a tomato.
  24. Ace 55: Heirloom, Determinate, 80 days, VFA. As reliable as the old country store’s porch swing.
  25. German Johnson: Heirloom, Indeterminate, 80-90 days. As impressive as our beloved bluegrass.

Now, don’t forget, your tomatoes need full sun, so be sure to plant ’em where they’ll get plenty of Southern exposure. Happy gardening, y’all!


In conclusion, plantin’ tomatoes in Kentucky ain’t for the faint of heart, friends. You’ve got to choose your variety as carefully as picking a horse at the Derby. Start them seeds indoors, watch the fickle Kentucky weather, and then transplant when the soil’s as warm as fresh-baked cornbread. Give ’em food, water, and a little shade when the sun’s hotter than a two-dollar pistol. And remember, stakin’, mulchin’, and prunin’ are as important as the right pair of boots at a barn dance. Now go on and get your hands dirty, and before you know it, you’ll be harvestin’ a bumper crop of those red gems!

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