Saturday, May 18, 2013

Preparing For Those Summer Crops

Daughter Fred went into the hospital to have grandson Owen a few weeks ago and brought her tomato seedlings over barely breaking the ground for Mom to care for. They liked it so much they stayed awhile : ) Those of you that have children know what I mean! Sometime this week they are going home. Mom says so... We are hoping that it will be dry enough that they can work the soil in her garden. Meanwhile I take them in and out everyday as weather permits and allow them to bask in the sunshine on those sunny days preparing them to go into the garden permanently.

As for me I try to time my tomatoes to be ready the first of June. Rarely do I even attempt to plant them before then. Lately I have gotten several comments and questions on this. Traditionally the weather is just too unstable before June for us and this year is no exception. We have had beautiful weather for the last couple days and I have planted many seed crops such as corn/beans/squash but don't be in such a hurry to stick out those young plants. I like to make sure that mine are hardened off well before just sticking them out there. And for us a perfect example is tomorrows chance of hail and high winds. That weather scenario so typical this time of year as a result of hot air and cold air colliding. So my plants are just now being potted up into larger pots to allow them plenty of root room in their pots. They will really start to grow now as I start to harden them off outdoors. Usually on my porch railings at first where they receive only the morning sun for a few hours. After a few days of that then they graduate to the picnic table out in full sun for a few days. From there they are ready for the garden.  In another 2 to 3 weeks they should be perfect for that row in my own garden.   

Perfect temperatures for your tomatoes to set fruit are from 65 to 80 degrees. Temperatures lower than 55 will cause misshapen fruit. Temperatures over 95 will sometimes cause reduced fruit set and temperatures below 50 will cause the same. We have night time lows forecasted in the high 40's for next week. So you have accomplished little setting out large blooming plants this time of year in my area. As a general rule even if your plants are blooming they will not set fruit this time of year with the temperature extremes anyway without a greenhouse or covering of some kind.  Patience is such an important part of gardening!   


My sweet pepper plants are just now ready to be potted up and are not far behind the tomatoes. Sweet peppers do not like cool weather at all and will just languish if the temperatures are too cool. Pollen sterility can occur in temperatures over 90 degrees. Less than 60 degrees equals poor fruit set or night time temperatures great than 75 can cause the same thing.  We humans try to rush these thing but there is a reason these are summer fruits.

Meanwhile it will not be long before I try replanting some of the onion starts I have lost to groundhogs and snowstorms of late.  I have lost so much time it will be interesting to see what they do. A great deal will depend on when it turns off really hot. 

Basil are coming along and will go into the garden about the same time as the tomatoes and peppers. 

And my second crop of broccoli and cabbage are just about ready to harden off. I have no idea what the future will bring with these little guys and the temperatures again will tell the story. If it turns off hot I will have to attempt a third crop in the fall which may be my best hope anyway. 

For now we wait. Temperatures last  weekend were again in the 30's so I will simply nurse my warm weather crops along inside, moving them outside on the porch on sunny warm days and see what happens over the next week or two. They are calling for 70 and 80 degree days for this week  after some 90's last week. If that continues it would help us immensely on catching up on some of our gardening projects. What would help even more is rain once a week or so and not every day. Gosh aren't I picky and I will have to take what I can get and make the most of it! I think I am getting whiny in my old age : ) 

For now O Wise One and I are busy mowing and planting seeds. So far we have 6 rows of corn, green beans, red beans, cucumbers, purple hull peas, and red beans planted. The mustard greens, carrots and beets are up and growing and we spent the week adding straw to the potatoes and onions.  

Hoping everyone has a wonderful weekend and hope to see you again on Monday!

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter


  1. Your plants look great!! We usually dont plant our tomatoes & peppers here in NE Ohio until Memorial Weekend as well. They opened the community garden early though so I may chance it & plant some of them.. I think the last frost free date here in my area is May 1st though it sure doesnt mean it hasnt been chilly some of these days. Im in the process of hardening my plants off now.. I just wasnt ready for this yet.. Sometimes, a week makes all the difference in the world. Hope yours all work out for you!

  2. your plants look awesome! I miss not growing my own-get what I want that way and so much cheaper too-I am just not set up here to do it-loved the photos Kathy

  3. We LOVE your blog and check it daily. We have a 3000 s.f. garden area and are not quite sure what the best way to irrigate it would be. Do you have any suggestions? How do you irrigate your garden? Thank you so much.

    Kayla and Karen

    1. In the 16 years on this farmstead we have been very fortunate to never need more than a waterhose. Trick number one healthy soil requires less frequent waterings. Trick number two plant crops that are known to be drought tolerant and require less water. I am a firm believer that you need to not overwater your crops and encourage their roots to go deep for those water and nutrients. When you water too often the crops roots remain close to the surface because that is where the water is. Tip number three mulch when at all possible it really does help. Try it especially on your thirstiest crops. When I do water it is the old fashioned way with a sprinkler and water hose. It also has a great deal to do with where you live and your average annual rainfall.

  4. Thank you for the advice! Unfortunately, we live in Reno, Nevada, and get hardly ANY rainfall. I will try everything that you have suggested! Again, THANK YOU!


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