What's red that you think of on Valentines Day? - Hearts? Roses? Not Me! Valentine's Day makes me think of Tomatoes!
Early Tomatoes to be exact.
Around here, folks use holidays as reminders of when to do things in the yard and garden. They say to set out peas and potatoes on St. Patrick's Day, set out tomatoes and peppers on Mother's Day, open your pool on Memorial Day and close that pool on Labor Day. Call me strange, but I add "start tomato seeds on Valentine's Day" to that list.
This year I'm putting more work into it and setting the goal at May 31st. If I'm really lucky, I could have a ripe tomato by Memorial Day!
How do I plan to achieve this here in Northern Zone 5 where most ripe tomatoes are harvested in Late July and early August? Much like I did last year by planting early under grow lights and potting up multiple times until I transplant the monster-huge tomato plants outdoors in April. What I will add to the strategy this year involves the outdoor planting site. I will put down black plastic to warm the soil, and I will wrap the new plants with plastic cages and possibly construct a temporary hoop house over the early plants.
I will let you know all the details in these pages as we go along.
Last year, my extra-early tomato plats were the Early Girl variety. They did well but this year I will be planting 4 other extra early varieties to give Early Girl a run for the money!
The GardenDesk newcomers are: Hybrids New Girl and Orange Blossom from Johnny's Selected Seeds and Heirlooms Siletz and Sub-Artic "World's Earliest" from Baker Creek. Both of these companies are amongst my favorites. More details to come!
Getting back to Valentine's Day - before I get any angry email accusing me of not being a romantic, I want to state that I DID give my wife and daughters the real red of Valentine's Day - Roses.
Now they will lovingly let me start tomatoes tonight! Yum!