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First Sprout on Winter-sown Tomatoes

This is my first year growing tomatoes, and I planted some inside and some outside. My inside ones grew quickly to about 3 inches tall and stalled out. Now I have to deal with the hardening off process, which is going to be a challenge for me since I can't be there during the day on a weekday.

I got my first sprout today from the wintersown tomatoes today and I think I like the wintersowing process a lot better than growing indoors. I wintersowed them in jugs and 2 liter soda bottles. I had them just sitting out for the last 2 weeks, and they were not germinating. Last night, I put them in a large plastic box and today I saw a Brandywine sprout. I can't help but wonder whether the extra protection of the larger box kept the warmth in at nighttime to allow them to sprout sooner. So, I guess I will transfer them in and out of the box for another couple weeks until the soil in the larger pots warms up enough for them.

So, how do people protect their full grown tomatoes in the fall from the first few cool nights so as to get those last few tomatoes to ripen?

Lois in PA

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