Everybody knows somebody who is disappointed with their tomato harvest or has heard someone say that in our climate, you absolutely need a greenhouse to produce great tomatoes.
The good news is, that's not true! You just have to choose the right varieties for your climate. The best types for Eastern Quebec are short- to mid-season tomatoes, which means tomatoes that ripen in the shortest amount of time (usually 55-75 days after transplanting).
These short and mid-season varieties generally require fewer hot days to ripen their fruit and are naturally adapted or have been developed for cooler temperatures.
Regions with cold climates generally have short growing seasons. The growing season is the frost-free period between the last spring frost and the first fall frost. When the growing season is short, you want to grow tomatoes that need less time (calculated in days of maturity) to come to fruition and you need varieties that will be able to perform despite colder temperatures in general during the summer. Tomatoes require daytime temperatures of at least 20°C to grow and develop fruit.
Tomatoes well suited to regions with cooler summer temperatures are also the best choice for people in warmer regions who want tomatoes earlier in the season or who want to replant in mid-summer to extend the harvest season. But this is not the case for us here in Eastern Quebec.
The healthier the tomato plants are, the better they manage to perform despite colder temperatures. Therefore, we recommend that you feed your plants every 1-2 weeks with compost tea or liquid growth fertilizer. For very windy places, we recommend that you protect your plants with a screen (a fence, a plastic film barrier) in order to reduce the wind and thus gain several degrees, which will be very favorable to the growth of your plants.
Which tomatoes should I choose for our climate?
To help you pick, we've listed the best varieties of open pollinated tomatoes for colder regions by days to maturity:
42-Day Red Tomato (42-60 days)
Sub Arctic Plenty Tomato (45-60 days)
Early Glacier Tomato (55 days)
Manitoba Tomato (55-60 days)
Moskvich Tomato (65 days)
Grushovka Tomato (65 days)
Siberian Tomato (70 days)
Principe Borghese Tomato (75 days)
Arbuznyi Tomato (75 days)
We have not listed cherry tomatoes, such as the 60 day Black Cherry or the 60 Day Igleheart Cherry, as these smaller varieties naturally take fewer growing days to mature than a larger tomato. It is therefore easy to grow them in a northern climate, regardless of the variety.