Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show: Hardening off warm season plants
Cold… wet…. Spring. The recent cooler temperatures reinforce waiting to plant those warm season vegetables like peppers and tomatoes (some would call them fruit!). They like the soil temps over 60 degrees, in fact, for peppers they appreciate 70 degrees (as do I). IF you’ve already sunk them into the soil, they’ll be fine but they’ll be slow to grow.
If you started tomatoes and/or peppers indoors, it’s time to begin the hardening off process if you haven’t already. You need to take your seedlings outdoors for a few hours at a time. Start them out in a shady area, with a little wind. Then begin to set them out in the sun and breeze for longer periods. BTW, you should harden off any seedlings you start indoors.
Think of this as body builder training!
It really helps to strengthen their stems and acclimatize them so they aren’t shocked when you shove their tender roots in the ground and leave them alone. Well, sort of. You still have to weed, water and watch for pests. Oh a parents job is never done!
When planting your tomatoes, this is one of those plants who will not argue with you if you plant it too deep. Tomato plants will start growing roots from any point that touches the soil. In fact, many folks plant them quite deep, this leads to a more sturdy plant.
Take a look at the video below:
Tom grows dozens of varieties he starts from seed.
You may find this little fact interesting, many moons ago, tomatoes were called ‘love apples’ and were thought to be poisonous so they were grown only for their ornamental value. Now, the tomato is usually the first vegetable folks talk about when planning a vegetable garden.