Gamble gardeners have been planting tomatoes for weeks in our area. Those wanting to really get a jump on the gardening season will get the plants started but keep them indoors with our cooler temperatures. However, I have planted tomatoes in late February before and was successful in keeping a killing frost away from the tender annual! While I didn’t have fruit weeks early, it was fun accepting the challenge. Most garden plants, tomatoes and especially peppers won’t get established quickly until the soil temperature is mid 60 degrees and above. Sure they’ll survive cooler soil temperatures, but once warmer temperatures are common, the plants are rapid growers. That time is now!
Once mid-May arrives it’s time for our summer vegetable plant establishment and time to enjoy early spring vegetables. Lettuce, radish, early peas, carrots, kale and others are enjoyed at the table. Soon ‘new potatoes’ will be enjoyed as well. Vine crops such as squash - summer and fall types, cucumbers - slicers and pickling, and all melon types can be planted successfully now with direct seeding into the ground, or by selecting from our many ready-to-plant starts for a jump on the season. If you are just wanting a single plant, I’d go with transplants. For larger gardens, a seed packet will plant many hills for the best value.
Everybody loves home grown tomatoes - on a sandwich, salad or just by themselves. When selecting varieties, I suggest gardeners look at the label on the plant and select ‘determinant’ for containers or smaller spaces. ‘Indeterminate’ growth habit tomatoes are varieties that will grow larger, typically will need staking or caged and tend to produce for a longer period of time. As always, I’ll plant Cherokee Purple as the best tasting heirloom type and Jet Star as the Kansas favorite! I’ll add paste tomato varieties for pasta, a couple of different cherry types, and a Big Beef for large slicing tomatoes.
Peppers really love the warm weather and are consistently good performers in our region. My newest favorite is Shishito - the best finger length for grilling. Some have a bit of a kick, but most do not. Grill them on a cast iron skillet or on the BBQ in EVOO, and it’ll be your favorite new pepper! I’ll also plant sweet bell peppers, a jalapeño and a couple of chile peppers, as well as a ghost pepper - just because!
Dad always had us use a liquid feed when we set out our vegetable plants. I use ferti-lome Blooming and Rooting Plant Food. It promotes better blooming, greener foliage, and strong root development. Mix it with water and use it all growing season long as a soil application, rooting solution, or apply it directly to foliage.
For a longer lasting garden fertilizer, we’ve used ferti-lome Gardener’s Special Plant Food as our go-to fertilizer. We've sold this all-purpose fertilizer for decades, and there's a reason why. Gardener's Special contains both fast and slow release nitrogen, plus necessary trace elements to help increase plant development and crop yield. These elements are especially important, because they're depleted quickly from the soil by high demand vegetable plants. Gardener's Special can also be used on bedding plants, flowers, bulbs, roses, evergreens, ornamental plants, and shrubs.
We’re here to help with all of your vegetable garden needs, all season long.
Your friend in the garden,
Owner - Johnson's Garden Center