Thursday, May 28, 2015

Can I put my tomatoes out yet? By Debbie Becket

King Soopers has had tomato plants for sale since March; I can put my tomatoes out... Right?
Probably not, but soon!
We must consider OUR weather conditions, altitude and growing season.

1. USDA Plant Hardiness zone maps help gardeners decide which plants will survive at a particular location. Gilpin County sits in zones 3b and 4a. The map is based on average low temperatures.

2. The last frost date is June 10 for these zones. Our growing season is about 90 days.

Tomatoes are a tender plant and cannot survive below 32 degrees. Watch night time temperatures.

Harden off your plants. Whether you buy plants or start them at home, they need to be hardened off for a week or so. Start by setting them out in a sheltered area like a porch. Then gradually shift them out into a sunny spot. Bring them in at night.

I know, I know, you still want to try to plant them sooner than later… itchy green thumbs?
Season extenders can help you get a head start. These include wall of waters, hot caps and floating row covers, sold at garden centers, and some homemade attempts as well.
A gallon milk jug with the bottom cut out provides an inexpensive micro- climate to help protect your tender tomatoes. Don't leave the caps on during the day.

 Oh, you bought your tomatoes a month ago and now they are too leggy? Never fear, those tomatoes can still be planted. Remove all but the top leaves and plant them "horizontally!" 

I can't wait for a juicy BLT!

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