I set up the bales, following the instructions of the cut side up, not the folded end, and put stakes on the ends to secure them in place. I put paper bags under the bales to provide a biodegradable barrier from soil pathogens. There they sat all winter long.
I bought my tomato plants on May 9, but kept them in my porch due to frosts through the week. When the weather finally warmed on May 16, I put the tomatoes outside during the day and brought them into the garage at night. The overnight temperatures were consistently around 60 degrees by May 20th and the tomatoes were ready to plant!