June 9, 2010
Traditionally in our area home gardeners aim for having their gardens fully planted by the May 24 long weekend. With recent climate changes there has been a push for some home gardeners to start putting their vegetables in too soon. Our average day of last frost (ADLF) is usually around May 8 but we had a good frost here on May 14 this year so those with warmer weather plants like tomatoes already planted lost them. I tend to follow the traditional planting time combined with using the ADLF as an indicator as to when to plant cold weather plants like spinach and lettuces. I also follow the planting times of local farmers who are just now planting tomatoes and peppers. I am still busy planting in the raised beds and containers with the plans to add two new 4' x 4' raised beds that will bring my total raised bed growing area to 112 square feet.
Planting is an ongoing process when using the square foot gardening method. As a square is harvested it is replanted with another vegetable so there is continuous planting and harvesting throughout the growing season. It occurred to me while planting my tomatoes that many home gardeners do not know what tomato plugs are. Tomato plugs are small tomato seedlings that come in a tray much like cell packs but much smaller. As you can see the cell in the tomato plug tray is considerably smaller as are the plants. There are 288 tomato seedlings to one tomato plug tray. The number of tomato plug trays needed depends on the size of acreage being planted. The seedlings are planted using a mechanical tomato planter. They are usually planted as soon as possible because there is very little soil. Don't let the small size of the tomato plugs fool you. While they look very small compared to the Tiny Tim tomatoes behind the marigolds, this commercial variety will quickly catch-up in size and out perform the Tiny Tims. I planted 13 of this variety this year.