How To Harden Off Tomatoes For Hoop House Planting

Asked August 9, 2017, 3:53 PM EDT

We planted tomatoes in a hoop house this year and they got badly sunburned. They are doing great now, but we weren't sure they'd make it last spring. We start them from seeds at home, under lights. We can plant the tomato plants earlier in the hoop house, but we can't harden them off because it's too cold outside. What do you suggest we do next year? Thanks so much for your help!

Wayne County Michigan

2 Responses

How many tomato plants does this involve? When did you plant them in the hoop house (how early in the season)? Can you protect the plants from a chill long enough to take the plants from your home to the hoop house for a just a few hours each day when the interior temperatures are warm enough (tomatoes are happiest at 70 -75 degrees F) and then increase the hours each day until you plant them? The soil temperature can also affect the growth of the tomato, so were the soils warm enough in the hoop house when you planted them (around 55 - 60 degrees F)? The only other possibility I can think of is to put a shade cover above the tomatoes when you first plant them in the hoop house and then remove the shade for longer periods of time over the course of a couple of weeks, until the plants are acclimatized to the higher sunlight and growing conditions.

There were only 7 tomato plants. The soil was definitely warm enough. I think we planted them there at the end of April or beginning of May.Next spring we will try your suggestions. We will either take them back and forth for a while or use a shade cover. Look at them now! Thanks so much.