A good method of getting the jump on the normal spring season is to grow portable transplants of recommended varieties.

If transplanting tomatoes into cold garden soil, plants become stunted and production is decreased and delayed. To avoid this early in the spring, transplant purchased plants into larger containers such as milk cartons with drainage holes or regular 6-inch pots. Use a potting mix which drains well. Mix the recommended amount of slow-releasing fertilizer granules such as Osmocote® into the potting mix. In addition, fertilize the repotted transplants weekly with a 20-20-20 water soluble fertilizer (1 tablespoon in a gallon of water). Keep plants in a location which receives 8 hours or more of sun daily and move to a protected area when frosty temperatures threaten. When all danger of frost has passed and the garden soil has warmed, carefully transplant the plants into the soil. Plants should have developed a large root system which will support immediate growth and production.

DO NOT OVER WATER! Water the potting soil; forget about the plant. Keep the mix moist -- not dry -- not wet. Test moisture by inserting your finger into the mix. If it feels cool and moist, WALK AWAY! Some transplants do not need additional watering for weeks, depending on potting mix used, after potting. Overwatering kills more transplants, in soil and pots, than any other cause.