March to Start Tomatoes

Now Is the Time to Plant Your Tomatoes

Tomatoes take the full growing season to root, shoot, and fruit, so now is the time to get the stars of the summer into the ground.

Photo courtesy of Joshua Burman Thayer

Plant them deep: Tomatoes have the awesome ability to launch root shoots into the soil from places where you have broken off branches. Before you plant your starts, prune off all but the top five branches. Then bury the plant up to the level of the remaining branches to establish deeper roots.

Companion planting: Planting basil, marigold, and peppers near your tomatoes will help ward off insect pests. Some gardeners believe these companions also enhance the flavor of
the tomatoes.

Snatch crop the edges: It will take 60+ days before your tomato plants grow to full size, so use the area around the plants to grow snatch crops, which you will harvest in May and June. (Note: Find Joshua’s March Gardener’s Notebook article on snatch crops here.)

Plant the Right Varieties for Your Zone:

Cool-Climate Tomato Varieties
For west of the Highway 24 tunnel and other cooler microclimates:
Big Beef, Black Krim, Celebrity, Cherokee Purple, Early Girl, Green Zebra, Oregon Spring, San Francisco Fog, Siletz, Stupice, Sungold, Sweet 100

Heat-Tolerant Tomato Varieties
For the eastern parts of Contra Costa and Alameda counties:
Abe Lincoln, Ace 55, Beefsteak, Berkeley Tie Dye, Black Krim, Brandywine, Celebrity, Early Girl, Isis Candy, Pineapple, Roma, San Marzano, Sungold, Sweet 100

Want to learn more ?

Check out Joshua’s article in the Spring 2018 issue of Edible East Bay.

Permaculture designer and educator Joshua Burman Thayer is a regular contributor to Edible East Bay. In his monthly Gardener’s Notebook feature in Edible East Bay’s free e-newsletter, he offers lots more advice on how to implement gardening ideas like this one. Sign up for the newsletter here. Josh has also written for Mother Earth News and Edible Silicon Valley. Find him and his work at, and follow him on Twitter at @nativesungarden.