This time of year can be very confusing. Especially when the weather throws a few curve balls like extra warm temperatures! It almost makes you think it will be fine to plant those tomatoes four weeks early. I know why, everyone wants bragging rights about that first ripe tomato! I thought for today’s Friday Five post that I would mention when to plant several standard vegetable garden favorites. Remember, just because a plant is available in stores doesn’t mean you should plant it right away!
Cherokee Purple Tomato
When to Plant Tomatoes – While visiting a home improvement store this week I stopped in the garden area and told a lady not to plant the tomatoes just yet. She was gathering up several varieties to bring home to her garden. We are still three weeks before the safe planting date and 5 weeks out from the ideal planting date for tomatoes. The best time to plant tomatoes is two weeks after the safe planting date in your area. This gives the soil time to warm up. Tomato plants like warmth and will grow much faster in warm soil and warm air than they would with just warm air. Peppers, eggplant, and tomatillo should be planted around the same time as the tomatoes. I start my tomato seeds indoors about 6-8 weeks before I want them ready to go outside. For peppers and eggplant I add two more additional seed starting weeks.
- When to Plant Lettuce – If you start lettuce indoors you can transplant out to the garden about three to four weeks before the last frost date. I usually direct sow my lettuce about 4-6 weeks before the last frost date. I’ve had lettuce varieties that made it through our Tennessee winters which means we have a lot of flexibility with planting lettuce.
- When to Plant Radishes – Radishes are probably one of the easiest vegetables to grow and are great for children’s gardens. You can plant radishes from seed right in the garden when the ground is ready to be worked! You can continue to plant radish every week to 10 days for continuous harvests. They like cool weather so once the hot summer weather comes you’re radishes are about done.
- When to Plant Corn – Plant corn after the last frost date. Corn needs about 80-90 days depending on the variety to produce. You may even be able to plant corn a week to ten days earlier than the last frost. This is because it takes the seed time to germinate and emerge from the soil. I haven’t had great luck with corn – mostly because of racoons. Plant corn in blocks to insure good pollination.
When to Plant Beans – Beans don’t like frosts either and should be planted outside after all threat of frost has passed. If you are planting pole beans go ahead and plant away as many as you would like. Pole beans continue to produce over a long season. If you are planting bush beans then you need to plan for successive plantings. Bush beans produce a large crop all at one time then are done. It’s a good idea to plant a combination of the two to insure a good harvest throughout the season. In both cases of beans you should wait until after the frost to plant outdoors!
Don’t be fooled by the weather. Just because it may be warm now doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Our temperatures could continue to be in the 70’s and 80’s until April 14th when it might drop to the lower 30’s for the low. We just don’t know for sure. For now plant with extreme caution and plant as though the weather is normal!