Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Baby, It's...Cool, Outside!

So, ... here we are in June! and suddenly the weather got kinda cool!

Anything to worry about? Nah,not really.
Despite the fact that we our selves would prefer it to be warmer and sunnier, as would the plants, the temps are still fine for the tomatoes, peppers, cukes, and squashes.

However, here is some info for next year, or just in case your babies are not really thriving this year...

Do not plant your tomatoes out till the air temps are reliably +10 C at night.
Here on Vancouver Island, anywhere from mid-May to early June.

Some people say to wait till early June to buy and plant.
In theory, this is very wise advice.
However, you need to know that you run the risk of variety selection being very diminished.
If you purchase in June, you will likely miss out on all those fabulous new varieties that you really wanted to try and end up with plants/fruits you did not really want, but you had to settle.

I say... Buy them early! Get the plants you want!
If the weather does not co-operate, then plant them up into larger pots, as needed, till the weather improves.
Move them in and out daily (very important step!) till temps are good, and then plant them out.

News Flash! Tomatoes like heat!
Okay, so not really new... um news.... but
Tomatoes need the soil to be warm so that they can readily take up the nutrients in order to grow, flower, and fruit.

However, if you have already planted them outside and the weather turns cool for a while, you have a couple of options...

You can use  Walls-o-Water.... These tubes contain water, which soaks up the heat from the sun during the day and then slowly release the warmth during the night. This is a really good option...
Ideally, this step should be taken before you plant, allowing the Wall-O-Water to warm the soil before you plant your tomato!

This lovely picture of super healthy looking tomatoes is from Pintrest and

You can also make your own covers (cloches) out of almost anything ...

- Milk jugs make great cloches that can be removed each morning.

- tomato cages, with the bottom half covered in plastic, work really well at keeping the cool winds out and regulating temps, creating a bit of a heat pocket around the plant.

- or... simply cover with a large cardboard box, or plastic pot for the night, again, removing during the daytime hours.

Black landscape fabric, or plastic, placed on the soil, at the base of the tomato plant, will soak up the sun's rays during the day, and so will warm the soil around the tomato... keeping it warm, happy and healthy.

Plants that are in cold soil cannot take up nutrients from the soil, especially phosphorus, and so become deficient
causing them to turn purple and vein-y.

However, if the temps are pretty near the +10 C, both night and day, and the plant is just a wee bit vein-y, as in the picture above, then they will recover quickly once the sun returns. All will be well.

If, however, temps are consistently lower, and you have not taken steps to warm the soil and the plant, and the tomato begins to look a bit choloric ( yellow) and vein-y, you may be better off to pull the entire plant, replace with a new, happy, and healthy, non-chilled plant, once the weather improves.
You might not have that fab new variety you were wanting to trial... but you will get actual fruit...
which in the long run, really, is the thrill of growing your own tomatoes ;)  

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