By Kira Hamman
Short answer: Nope!
Longer answer: your options depend on where you live and how soon you simply must have ripe tomatoes, but you do still have options.
Of course, the later you start your seeds, the later your plants will bear fruit, and if you start too late it might be winter again before your plants are ready.
For most heirloom varieties, you’ll get ripe tomatoes about 10 to 12 weeks from the time you transplant the seedlings, which you’ll do about six weeks after you start them. That makes a total of four to five months from seed to tomato, so count forward from now: will you have frost in your area in September?
Unless you live waaaay up north, probably not, so go ahead and start those seeds! Since they won’t be ready until fall, you’ll still need either some transplants from the nursery or access to a good farmers’ market (or both), but your patience will eventually be rewarded and you’ll get to try that fabulous variety you have your eye on before the season is over.
If you do live waaaay up north, or you’re reading this several months from now, another option is to grow early varieties, which produce in a much shorter time. There are many hybrids that fit into this category, but there are also a few heirlooms. Try Siberian, whose name pretty much says it all, or Stupice, a delicious and very reliable variety.
One perk of starting late is that you can plant seeds directly in the garden as long as you keep the seedlings protected while they get going. This should shave at least a few more days off your wait, plus you won’t have to deal with the hardening-off headache.
Bottom line: It’s not too late! And if it is, there’s always next year.