Why Not to Plant to Early in the Spring

frost damaged tomatoes.jpg
Frost-damaged plants
I have a sad story and a word of caution to share with you. One of my “most favorite” customers misread the weather app and planted the tomatoes in the garden yesterday.Unfortunately, they froze last night. At my house, we didn’t get frost. Everyone has microclimates at their house. My garden area is probably about 5 degrees cooler than up by the house. Keep that in mind when you plant.
I don’t recommend that you plant until mid-May in the Spokane area because our weather is so unpredictable. We are all anxious to get started planting after the long, cold, dreary winter but just because it is warm during the day doesn’t mean it is warmer at night. (That’s where it pays to know your microclimate) If you do have them out, cover them for a few degrees of protection if it’s going to be below 32 degrees. If they’ve only been in the ground for a day or two and you know frost is coming, pull them out and put them back into their pots. They won’t have started spreading their roots yet.
This is a picture of when we used buckets to cover the plants. It provides a few degrees of protection. They still froze, see the story in next paragraph.
One last thing, if they get touched by frost, they will look dreadful, kinda like canned spinach when the sun hits them. Don’t be in a hurry to rip them out of the earth. One year the same thing happened in the first week June (I mean really???) to our garden. I cried, said some not so nice words and left them in. They recovered and grew as big as before! Unless we have several days of killing frost and the ground freezes, give them a chance.

5 thoughts on “Why Not to Plant to Early in the Spring

  1. I have found that “walls of water” let me plant tomatoes 2 or 3 weeks earlier than last frost date. The sun warms the water and slowly cools off over the cool nights.

  2. OH! That first picture is so sad! We rarely have that problem here, although it can (rarely) happen, and could have happened this year because the end of winter was so warm. We often plant early because we can usually get away with it.

  3. I moved to greenacres in 1942, with my parents, people told use not to plant our garden until the snow was gone from mica peak, we planted around the first of june, I live up out of chewelah now around 3000 ft elevation, the first full moon in june can freeze me right to the ground, but like everyone, I plant early and take my chances. my tomato plants stay in the greenhouse all summer, I like health kick and new girl, new girl is hard to find, so I end up with early girl, I like all tomatoes, early girl is my go to number one, I grow tomatoes in 100 gallon rubber made containers, I catch the water that drains out to reuse once again. good luck

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