To plant out or not to plant out

That is the question!

IMG_1254But I’m ready!  Tomatillo blossom

My non-scientific answer to that question is to ask myself, well, will the plant sulk?  Our normal temperature range at this time of year is highs in the low 70s and lows in the low 50s, but there is still the rare potential for frost and an even rarer instance where it could get to be 80.  This range, then, is not ideal for the heat-loving solanaceae family (peppers, tomatoes, eggplants).  It’s even worse for cucumbers and beans.

SO, I wait.  It’s hard! Especially when I didn’t have the greenhouses to distract me, this time of year is one spent waiting and watching the 10-day forecast.  Hard work, this waiting, this watching your lovingly tended seedlings grow more and more leggy and spindly.  But it is best for the plants.  Get them in the ground and they either become victims of those munching creepy crawlies or are simply done in, fainting like corseted Victorian maidens.  Or they survive.

But Thursday is Plant It Out day in our school gardens, so I will be “risking it” with okra, tomatillos, tomatoes, peppers, and those really fainting- and sulking-prone eggplants.  So, cross your fingers for us.  Unlike here at home, we’ve got the school calendar tick-tocking away on us.  Some plants might just have to sulk.

15 responses to “To plant out or not to plant out

  1. grandmabecker

    We can’t get in the garden yet, too wet. Rained yesterday and last night AGAIN. This has been a really wet spring.
    But I think there is hope. The wind has blown out the clouds this am and the sun is out.
    I have lots of plants just waiting to go it. But where we are at, I still have to wait another 2 weeks.
    Last year we had frost the 1st week of June!!! I had waited, thank goodness, but alot of farmers, a veggie gardeners had to replant.
    So I just wait……
    But it is a beautiful day here, along the St Clair river!

  2. In the same boat here on the other side of the lake. The weather is just too unsettled, I’ve decided. Frustrating when the forecast has 4 or 5 days with 50s for lows, then 2 nights in the 30s or 40s. At least the spring crops are happy.

    My head knows that plants catch up fast once they’re in the ground, but my heart is counting those “days to harvest” that I’m missing. Oh well, spring in the midwest!

  3. I had to smile when I read this post. I think more time is spent pacing back and forth trying to decide if it’s time plant or should I wait and where will everything go then I spend planting.

    We discovered tomatillos about five years ago and I must say they are a now one of our favorite food items…eaten almost every single week in the form of salad dressings and salsa…so good.

    By the way, I had the most wonderful turnip greens on my salad last night…thanks.


  4. How could those plants not grow with all of those tiny gardeners cheering them on? I doubt the harvest is the most important lesson they’re learning with their garden anyway…so no pressure.

  5. And fingers crossed!

  6. I’m thinking and almost decided to plant out the eggplant seedlings this weekend – they are getting huge inside! I am trying to be patient, but I think its time… good luck to you on the transplanting 🙂

  7. I’m so glad I’m past the pacing stage. Tomatoes are now up to 3 feet high and baby tomatoes, and even a pepper or two, are growing proud. ::sigh:: Soon it will be so hot I won’t enjoy going out as much. Keeping my fingers crossed for you to have mild weather!

  8. Well, a sulk isn’t the very worst thing that could happen. You all have many more weather challenges than we do, certainly! It will be nice to see the outcome.

  9. I hear ya El. I bought my tomato and pepper seedlings at the greenhouse this week and am itching to get them in the ground. It worries me to have them in those tiny cell packs for so long!! But after seeing the forecast for early next week I am holding off. This has definitely been a cool spring.

  10. with nights supposed to be in the 30’s again (30’s!), i’ve been holding on planting most of the tomatoes, peppers tec out. I did plant some in a cold fram (and they look SO ggod), and I did plant 1/2 of the sweet potatoes (will need to cover them up). On the other hands, the greens and peas are doing fantastic.

    Mixed blessings…

  11. Anne (in Reno)

    I am still in the pacing stage too, but it is because of my seeds! It has been warm enough at night consistently that I am going to finally plant tomatoes peppers etc. this weekend, but something has been nibbling my seeds and it is making me crazy! My boss claims it’s earwigs, is that something you’ve ever had experience with (and actually, the creepiest thing ever)? I just covered them with chicken wire to make sure it’s not the birds… grr!

  12. Should one pinch the blossoms off while waiting to put warm weather veggies out the garden? Most of my melons, cucs, squash, etc. are still inside in small pots (though they go in the mini greenhouse during the day) and they started to flower this weekend, and I’m not sure if it matters or not. What do you do?

  13. Yipes! We had a mild frost last night!! I checked in on the school garden this morning and nothing looked the worst for wear. It was the fleshy tomatillos I had most worried about, and they waved their yellow blossoms quite hale and heartily at me.

    Grandmabecker, I admire your restraint! It IS best to wait especially if you know you can have frosts that late in the season. We sure have had lots of rain, haven’t we? I would say though that this spring has been just as equally sunny, if cool. I think I would be so depressed if it were overcast all the time. I will take cool and sunny any day! But I do hope things dry out for you soon.

    Thank you, Linda. I think things have made it…

    Pamela, I had the kids in my daughter’s class (and the three others of that age) plant four beds of potatoes. The classes run from age 3-6 and potatoes were a safer bed: nobody would be putting a spud in their nose, see! They LOVED it, and are so excited that the spuds are now above ground. I think I will wait until school ends to mulch them heavily.

    MC, it is hard to wait. I still don’t have anything tender outside, and that is okay by me. Good luck with your eggplants! It takes them so long to really get big and get going.

    Thanks, Christy! Yeah, our summers are pretty cool so I do hear you on the hot-summer-not-fun thing with the garden. In Minneapolis we would have some scorchers, pushing 100*, most unpleasant! Saps one’s strength, those hot days. The tomatoes though just love it. My peppers went into a funk in the hottest part of the summer in their greenhouse and dropped blossoms poor things. I’d drop more than that if I were stuck in there…

    Stefaneener, thanks! You are quite right a sulk is better than…death. Tell that to those plants though 🙂 I like your project! Are you two super-competitive with each other, like the Williams sisters of gardening, or is it more of a mutual support thing going on?

    Jen, I know, hold on, girl! It will be here soon enough!

    Sylvie, 30s! Yipes. Great for the spinach, no? Maybe not so much for everything else. And hey: I am really close to a pea harvest thanks to your advice, a good month earlier than those outdoor plants. Yay. You know, I am waiting to plant the sweet potatoes here, even if they’re going into the greenhouses. I need to harvest things first to make room (always an issue) and considering frost happens a month and a half later in there, I am hoping for a good harvest. It’s an iffy proposition, growing them in Michigan, even with greenhouses.

    Anne, earwigs! YUCK. No; no real problems with them…they do tend to like things cold and damp though. My major outdoor pestilential scourges usually are VOLES, the little buggers; they’re also known as field mice, and they have voracious appetites for green growing things. Especially pea shoots. So maybe that’s your pest, or slugs or sowbugs. I hope things clear up for you though because that is a bummer.

    Lindsay, hi. Yeah, it is a good idea to pinch off any blossoms. It takes a lot of energy to flower and seed and transplanting is a shock to the roots more than anything else so it does help to trick them to do root repair and not flower production. The only trimming I am in the habit of doing is the onions when I plant them out; I trim their tops AND their roots about an inch. Most other things I manage to get to before they flower, except those tomatillos shown above are just so enthusiastic!

  14. Hey there, thanks for the shout out.

    We’re actually very cooperative, thinking of our yards as something of a continuum (although I never, ever get in her partner’s way to the kale in their yard; I might get eaten). I gave her honey today, she’ll give me mushrooms, stuff like that.

    There’s probably some healthy competition, but more of the “who can grow more tomatoes and how can we find more berries” variety, rather than destructive. Our goal is to have more than we need, so we can not only feed ourselves, but share it around and get more stuff by barter. It’s big fun, as projects go.

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