“Tomatoes, who has tomatoes?” I heard this more than once last weekend at market. The short answer is, unless you have an actual green house, or bring them in from south Texas, no one does yet.
A number of thing need to happen to grow plants. First, ground temperature has to be correct for the plant seed type. Second, moisture content has to be controlled. Third, the seed has to actually be viable, not eaten. Fourth, there is actually a duration of time it takes for seeds to develop roots, then a shoot. This varies by plant. Once all those things are perfected, you will see a shoot and plant comes up and THEN you have growth time.
Once it emerges from the ground, there is roughly 14 days of primary growth. During this time the plant gets a few inches tall. Still, many factors determine if it does grow, and how fast. I tell my students that, nature is a constant balancing act, and even though we can manipulate with it, it still has to regulate. So, we have to contend with disease, preditors, weather, and natural genetics of the plant for growth factors.
Once the plant is up and running, they genetically have a determined time to produce; that is dictated by genetics and weather, especially temperature. Many plants have about 25 days of plant growth before they flourece. Some have another 25 to 90 days of ripening.
What does this all mean? Be aware, be knowledgeable. We have been a little spoiled by big box stores, always having what we want, when we want. Things they sell also lack flavor because of how they are bred and harvested for transport. A helpful tip for the meantime, while you are at market, get your lettuce while you can, cause the heat is coming. Tomatoes will still be a while, cause the heat is coming.
Watch for my next article about what is ready and why. Later.