This is a Public Service Announcement to all backyard vegetable gardeners: if you have bought or are thinking of buying tomato (or pepper, for that matter) transplants at your local big box store or nursery, please be advised that it is highly inadvisable to plant such transplants in the ground for at least another 2-3 weeks.
Don’t let this warm weather fool you – the nights are still getting chilly, and these heat-loving plants will not be very happy in the cold. If you plant them too early, you risk stunting their growth and fruit production, at a minimum. In the case of a hard frost (still quite possible), plants could downright be killed.
As it happens, I rescued this Better Boy from the trash following the White House Egg Roll. Jon and I were limited in the amount of stuff we could carry home on the Metro, and so this baby was a candidate for being left behind. Because of my sympathy for plants and inability to willingly ‘off’ them (Case in point: my ‘Planticide‘ post), I dropped it in a tote and safely schlepped it home, all the while wondering what the heck I was going to do with it for the next month. In at night, out during the day, in at night, out during the day…what a pain!
I admit I’m a little peeved at the stores for selling the plants so early. It’s kinda like seeing Christmas decorations in October….
Anyway, for reference, here‘s a swell planting calendar developed by a Master Gardener from the eastern shore. You have to scroll down the page to ‘Vegetable, Fruit, and Herb Gardening’, and then it’s the “Spring Planting Guide for Vegetables: A Dynamic Chart for Maryland Gardeners” Excel spreadsheet. Open it to enter the last frost date for your area (about April 30 for central Maryland), and recommended planting dates for specific crops will be calculated.
For a less-sophisticated rule-of-thumb, use the Central Maryland Mother’s Day rule. By Mother’s Day there’s virtually no chance of frost, so you’re safe to plant your warm-season crops that weekend. So go out and plant Mom’s veggies with no fear!