The unusual warm weather this past couple of weeks tempted me to set those cute little tomato and basil plants in the ground. Past experience tells me “be patient!” And I am glad I was as it has turned a bit cool again. Even if frost didn’t get them, they would have just sat there and waited for the soil to warm. Now is the perfect time to give their beds a layer of compost and to prepare for the little darlings. Tomatoes are one area I do not use the Square Foot method. I usually put 4 plants in one 4’X4’ bed and they fill it up. I think I will try to control their size by doing more pruning. From what I have read, they usually produce as much if not more than letting the vines go rapid.
Raised beds have become more popular and much easier than a garden plot. In the past there has been concern of inorganic arsenic leaching from treated landscape timbers. My research finds that the process using arsenic (chromated copper arsenate) has not been used since 2003. However, I notice the warning is still present in gardening books and on web sites. You can read the report at the Government EPA site. If you are still concerned; I noticed Lowe’s has resin raised bed kits priced from $40 to $100, depending on size.
Remember, practice patience! (That’s a note to me) The last frost date for this area (Zone 6) is around April 20. Planting summer crops before that time may find you gathering blankets, sheets and Grandma’s quilts to cover your plants when a frost or freeze is predicted. Most seeds for the summer garden require the soil temperature to be at least 50° before they will germinate. My experience with plants planted before May have not yielded an earlier harvest. They don’t do anything but sit there and wait for the heat (kind of like I do on a cold morning, waiting for the house to warm.)