Saturday, June 1, 2013

Tough Weather Week for Vegetables

This past week was a tough one in Front Range vegetable gardens from several standpoints. For establishing tomatoes, we had five nights of overnight low temperatures in the forties F with a sixth night predicted tonight. The official early morning low on June 1 was 42 degrees F. [Postscript - the sixth night June 2 low was 39 degrees F - brrrr!]. This long stretch of lows under fifty degrees F will stop growth of tomatoes and take more days for growth to resume once lows are again in the fifties the first week of June. Can you say lost days for your tomato growing season?

Tomato transplants held for June planting 
Of course if you have your plants in nighttime heating water walls this has not been a problem. The other option some people have taken is keeping their plants "on the shuttle", bringing potted transplants in at night and setting them outdoors by day. June 2 will be the day to plant for those who have waited as this will be the first nighttime low over fifty F. If you timed growing transplants not to become too large, you will have success with holding as plants have stayed in active growth mode.

Remember tomato transplants can be planted deeper than they were growing in the pots and will root out along the stem. This only works if you have a deep depth of decent soil or use the horizontal-planting-with-upturned-top method in shallower topsoil.

Chances are very high the last spring freeze will have passed at this point. Remember the average last freeze in Denver is May 5 with the latest freeze occurring June 8, 2007. For kicks I'll throw in that the latest date of the last measurable snow in Denver was June 12, 1947 (data from NOAA National Weather Service Denver/Boulder office).

The second reason this was a tough week for vegetables was several days of winds in the twenty to thirty mph range. This dried foliage of newly established transplants or germinated seedlings. Careful watering and setting up wind protection structures were in order.

Photo credit: Tomato transplants held for June planting - Carl Wilson


  1. I am somewhat new to Colorado and we have had wonderful fruit from our pear and apple trees each year. This year, we haven't had any blossoms... are they late or did the May snow ruin our chances for fruit this year?

  2. We had an 8 degree F overnight low in Denver on April 9th and a 19 degree overnight low on May 1st. Any fruit or ornamental tree that had flower or leaf buds dehardening could have been damaged in those severe cold events. Flowers freezing is always the bane of fruit growers as Palisade peach growers on Colorado's Western Slope can testify to - they lost an estimated half of the 2013 crop due to two untimely April freezes. No flowers means no fruit for sure.