Friday, May 20, 2011

Anxious to Plant

Like everyone else, we are wondering when temperatures are going to thoroughly warm in order to transplant warm season vegetables to the garden. The five day forecast consistently shows "lows in the lower to mid 40's." For tomatoes and peppers, nighttime lows should be no lower than 55 degrees F.

The problem everyone is having is tomatoes stuck in the greenhouse getting leggy. Getting them out of a humid greenhouse where they can be put out on warm days and brought indoors into a non-greenhouse (drier) environment for night protection is ideal for hardening off. This should slow growth and curb leggy tendencies.

The outdoor part of this daily plant shuttle should have them located in a protected, short sun exposure location. Plants exposed to intense Colorado sun often sunscald because they have not developed the chlorophyll-protective plant pigments to shield them from UV and intense light.

One tomato plant brought to me this week for diagnosis showed the typical bleached, thin tan tissue typical of high light exposure. Transplants grown indoors during the cloudy spring weather we've had don't have the ability to stand up to the occasional clear day of intense Colorado sunlight.

Meanwhile, cool season vegetables such as this pak choy are happy growing in the cool, moist weather. The warm season transplants are just going to have to wait until Memorial Day weekend or later for the warm nights they require.

Photo credit: Greenhouse tomatoes and Pak Choy - Carl Wilson


  1. very helpful post! Do you think using something like wall-o-water would make it safe enough to put out the peppers and tomatoes now?

  2. Thanks for the info! So, with tomatoes, what about light shade (using a white garden quilt)? I'd much rather do that than relocate them all to a location in the yard that gets only partial sun.

    1. Floating row cover temporarily thrown over the new transplants for a week or so after transplanting will help eliminate high light damage in the transition from inside to outside. Row covers won't help the cool temperature situation, however.

  3. Planting in water walls can be done even earlier and plants won't be harmed by these cold forty degree nights.