Tomatoes like it toasty

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...to rushing warmth-loving vegetables into spring[cold ground.

That's a wound created by fungal attack on a cold tomato stem. The plant will live but the gardener will wonder by August why it is not performing well.

That's a wound created by fungal attack on a cold tomato stem. The plant will live but the gardener will wonder by August why it is not performing well.

In spring we all hunger for homegrown tomatoes, peppers, beans and squash. Every one is easy to grow once the soil warms up.

Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, beans and the whole squash clan thrive in warm soil, 60-70F. Don’t sabotage the harvest by planting any of those warm loving species into cold soil. Where they may grow but they will never be all they could be. They will be hampered by injuries the cold visits on their stems. Cold tissues are weak, susceptible to fungal attack and those wounds never heal.

The air’s finally warming but the soil’s not ready. Watch for the pesty but oh so reliable purslane and crabgrass to germinate. That happens only when the soil temperature hits 60F. You’ll recognize the succulent leaves of purslane even in their infancy. The wide, velvety leaves of crabgrass are unmistakeable, too.

This weekend stick with peas, lettuce, spinach, broccoli and other cabbage relatives sown in place. There will still be time to grow the others if you wait two weeks.

Simply cannot wait?

Level your vegetable bed and spread a piece of clear plastic across it. Weight and seal the edges to the ground with long boards.  Let the plastic amplify the sun’s warmth for a few days, then plant.

Seedlings. So beautiful. So easily, irreversibly damaged by poor growing conditions.

Seedlings. So beautiful. So easily, irreversibly damaged by poor growing conditions.