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applestar
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Not Zone 5, sorry, but I have a follow up question.

Just HOW early can you get tomato transplants out -- outside day High/night Low temp? What kind of protection do you provide? What I'm asking is condition outside (air temp, soil temp) when you decide to prepare the protection (usually ahead of time to warm the ground, so.) and what conditions the protection provides to let the tomatoes survive the cold and keep them growing. What about watering?

Do you plant out cool weather crops too?

I'm in a pickle because I may have to boot my cool weather starts earlier than intended to make room under the lights for the warm weathers (changing the temp setting for the area in the process) I'm looking at the latest 12" of snow that fell since yesterday wondering what, if any, possibility exists to set up a poly tunnel right now (I do have a couple of PVC hoops in place, a little higher than strictly necessary or wanted -- they're covering a 4' wide bed at hoop height of about 4'. Nothing on them right now, I'll have to get something to cover them.

RyanDe680
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bigdoug wrote:Last frost around here is mid-April, but I use cloches and row covers so last frost dates are a bit of a non-issue for me. Yeah, if I was transplanting the tomatoes into the garden with no protection at all, then there is no way I'd be starting them now. But I'm a farmer's marketer and in my situation it's a matter of "He who gets the first tomato to market, wins". So It pays for me to do all the frost beating tricks in the garden I can. Shoot, who am I kidding! I'd be doing those things even if I didn't sell at market. Just something about hearing all those zone 6-8 people talking about starting their gardens for the year that just gets my gardening juices flowing.
Amen to that.

If it weren't for our weather in Chicago lately, I would have had everything planted. It's just to cold and snowy still. Very frustrating.

bigdoug
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It's funny that you should ask about ground preparation, Applestar. That is this weekend's project. I'll go out and put black plastic down on the garden soil and make sure its secure. Then I put my row covers, or I guess they're more "hoop houses" as they are a heavy clear plastic and are closed on the ends, down on top of the areas where my future rows will be, and secure them.

Then I let the sun do that voodoo that it do so well. At about a week before I am ready to put my plants in the ground, (around the middle of march for my cold stuff and between the 20th and 25th of March for my hotties) I take everything off and start tilling. By then, the average high is 60 degrees and the average low is 40 degrees here. In New Jersey I'd guess it would be about 3 degrees more than that. With the combination of the plastic and the temps the tilling goes pretty smoothly.

When I have my rows tilled how I want them, I chose a calm day and start transplanting. When a row is in I put 3 liter pop bottle cloches over each plant, sinking them to the depth of the plant root to keep everything warm. Then I put the row covers back on and secure everything.

By now it's the end of March/ beginning of April and with both the cloches and row covers covering the plants, it's not the cold you have to worry about, it's the heat. I have to make sure things don't cook, so I get the caps off the bottle cloches if it gets over 55 that day and raise the plastic on the row cover if it gets over 60.

It does seem like a lot of work. But you have to remember, I'm well compensated for it those first few weeks at the Farmer's Markets.

You were asking about how I am able to water? I use the pvc clips on my hoop houses, so I can just remove a couple clips, raise the plastic and water.

For your dilemma, I would suggest potting up on your cold plants, putting black plastic or cardboard (your local appliance store is begging you to take their boxes) down under that 4' of hoop, put your pots on top of that and cover the hoops up with the heavy clear plastic. If you are worried that won't be enough, use cloches too. With that much protection for your cool weather plants I just don't see a problem. It takes quite a freeze to nip most of those cold plants, and in March we just don't have those long freezes. Sure it dips down there periodically, but it usually goes right back up the next day.

I hope that was of some help. I lurked on here for quite a while before I started piping up, and in that time I've seen you cheerfully help scores of people. So it gives me great pleasure to assist you and return some of that kindness.

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applestar
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bigdoug, WOW WOW!! :D :D
Thank you SO MUCH for such a detailed description of what needs to be done! I'm printing it all out so I can study and get everything ready to PLANT!!! :()
Thank you for your kind words. I really appreciate it. :wink:

The Helpful Gardener
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It's a danger for us borderline folk Doug, but the calendar never lies even when the thermometer does...

And the thermometer has nothing but ugly truth at the moment...

SO we wait... :wink:

HG
Last edited by The Helpful Gardener on Sat Feb 27, 2010 3:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Zapatay
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Rock on Big Doug..... Gracias for the awesome post

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Indeed. I just reviewed my last post and it seemed less than gracious; such was not the intent. Just pouting about more snow, is all... :(

Your expertise is certainly appreciated, Doug, thanks for sharing... :D

HG
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nes
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WTH did it have to get so cold??

I got all my seeds into their little pots a week early since we were having such nice weather. We have a dug basement so it's not easy to heat but I figured it was warm enough for the onions & such. Well if it WAS - it is no longer!!!! I had to pull the plug on the whole operation. The tomatoes are sitting on my bathroom floor, but everyone else just has to wait it out in the chilly basement until it gets warm enough outside I can heat my seedlings properly.

BOOO SNOW! BOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
Vanessa raising organic vegetables, livestock, wildflowers, and family in zone 5A.

RyanDe680
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So today indoors I started cayenne peppers, bell peppers, banana peppers, onions and round 1 of celery.

I'm trying to water from the bottom up. My only uncertainty though is if I have too much water.

In any event, I'm going to plant some herbs tomorrow and perhaps some broccoli.

malkore
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I"m either 5a or 4b for my zone...first year really gardening as we now have a house with a big backyard and gets good sun even though its somewhat north-facing.

Anyhow, I'm starting tomato, pepper and cantelope seeds here in 2 weeks.

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nes
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With the unbelievably wild weather (at least we) are having, anyone considering putting anything outside?

I'm getting super antsy but have almost been considering trying some beans/lettuce/carrots and seeing what happens.

Of course I should probably get my new garden expansion/additional soil/garden fence put in first... :oops:
Vanessa raising organic vegetables, livestock, wildflowers, and family in zone 5A.

The Helpful Gardener
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You'd be borderline in Zone 5 but could likely get away with the brassicas, (cabbage, bok choy, etc.)

HG
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nes
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Last year we still had 2' of snow at this time! I'm just being impatient ;).

But that's a good idea HG maybe I'll throw some cauliflower in my back flower bed & see what happens... :D
(Gets lots of sun & I don't think they are going to compete with the irises coming out)
Vanessa raising organic vegetables, livestock, wildflowers, and family in zone 5A.

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applestar
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I think in Jeavon's book it said lettuce germinates at 35º but it'll probably take 2 weeks at least.

Don't waste your beans. They only like warm soil. I tried sowing Bushbean Provider in early April last year because it was described as being able to grow in cold soil, and it didn't come up, I think, for like 3 or 4 weeks. I guess the GOOD thing was that it resisted rotting and did grow eventually. But it grew very poorly. I'm going back to my stand-by schedule of sowing beans when peppers and eggplants get planted out.

RyanDe680
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My peppers are doing well and lettuce is growing strong.

Broccoli continues to do well too.

The temps have been 55-60 here for the past couple of days and this is supposed to continue into next week. I'm shocked at the fact that it has and will be that consistent (temperature wise).

This would be a good time to prepare the garden, however, it's soaked and continues to rain.

I'll be planting my tomatoes indoors this weekend.

Perhaps if it is in the 60s next week, some of the plants already sprouted will venture outdoors for a couple of hours.

Sharpy
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I have tomatoes, celery, peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, onions and cabbage seedlings under lights in the basement I started with a heat mat.

Covered the area that will be the raised bed 3-4 days ago with plastic to get it dried out. Hoping to work on the sides for the beds this weekend if rain stays away long enough.

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nes
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Started some celery, strawberries, cauliflower & peppers indoors this morning. I'm DIEING to go out side today but it is just cold and rainy and MISERABLE out there!! BOOO :(

On the upside my husband got me a fantastic 2.5'x2.5' wooden box from a job site for me to plant my potatoes in :), plus some skids to make my compost bigger, plus some wood for a nice picket fence*, and weather permitting we're headed to the back of the farmer's property tomorrow for some lovely soil/rotten manure to supplement the veggies garden and fill in some spots on the lawn. Yippee! Rain, rain go away...

*I'm suspicious the offer of creating me a nice wooden picket fence is filled with ulterior motives to prevent me from further expanding the garden into 'his' lawn... :D
Vanessa raising organic vegetables, livestock, wildflowers, and family in zone 5A.

The Helpful Gardener
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That's EXACTLY what he's thinking Nes; DON'T fall for it!

Lawn is wasted space mostly anyway; what is it doing for you that you can't do without? Play space? Do you really need ALL that for play? It's not doing a darn thing for wildlife or soil biology. MAke his prove he has better use for that space than you do; bey he can't...

HG
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gixxerific
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Good stuff on the lawn subject. I suggested expanding my garden just a little bit more and the DW said we can't use up the whole yard because the kids need somewhere to play. Well I just put up a fence, for rabbits, where "I" wanted it. I would be a shame if that area was covered in grass clippings and compost and "accidentally" turned into garden space.

The kids never play back there anyways. 8)

The Helpful Gardener
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And teach the kids to "play" in the garden; games like "Who can find the most weeds?" and "Turn the Compost"... :lol:

HG
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applestar
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"Who can pick the most dandelion flowers" 8)
But don't hand out 5 gal buckets, they get discouraged. :lol:
Works better with a small beach pail for each child and the 5 gal bucket to dump the flowers in. :wink:
Use clean pails and buckets so you can make dandelion flower syrup and dandelion flower cookies (I have yet to try making dandelion flower wine, though home wine making is another one on my list of projects :roll:)

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gixxerific
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Pulling weeds! :shock: I'm appalled. :wink:

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applestar
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Are you talking to moi? or to HG?
Who said anything about PULLING weeds?
Mine are not pulling weeds, they're PICKING flowers. :>

My kids play another game called "Who can collect/pick the most number of different kinds of (live green) leaves." (and yes they KNOW not to pick Poison Ivy or other poisonous ones) We then sort them by different attributes like texture, shape, fragrant or "just green smell", etc. 8) Then, *I* get to see how many of them I can ID without having to resort to a reference book. :wink:

The Helpful Gardener
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I didn't say PULL Gixx...

My weeds will be picked this year...and mostly eaten! (Have done a job of selecting edible weeds for inclusion this year; if you can't beat them...eat them! :lol:

Do you know how many of the worst invasives are edible? A LOT of them... eat your weeds!
HG
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Zapatay
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... I wish weeds were my only problem, I have a big snow season of two (over 100 pound) dogs of poop to pick up.

RyanDe680
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I started my tomatoes yesterday. I planted 26 cells across 6 varieties, most of them being plum.

I transplanted some of the peppers that were getting bigger. They continue to emerge and all but approximately 4 have sprouted thus far.

Nothing going on celery yet.

Broccoli is doing great as are onions.

Lettuce is emerging.

8 weeks until I can "play in the mud!"

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nes
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Zapatay wrote:... I wish weeds were my only problem, I have a big snow season of two (over 100 pound) dogs of poop to pick up.
Yeah too bad I can't put my little guys to work helping me with that!

Thankfully my ground has thawed so I got a little work done prepping the new garden section. Until the toddler took off both gloves, one boot & JUMPed into the mud. Didn't take too long after that until he got too cold to stay outside :D at least he's having fun in the garden already!

My onions are emerging from their little cells!! WOOOHOO! :)

I have one giant pumpkin who is being VERY stubborn. He's put down his radicle but we're still waiting, 3 days later, for the hypocotyl. The rest of the bunch are still snoozing - but I have a few herbs popping up too.
Vanessa raising organic vegetables, livestock, wildflowers, and family in zone 5A.

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gixxerific
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I just planted a few oninons, garlic and nasturtuim in my rose bed.

I also have onions that are getting big as well as potatoes growing in buckets in my basement.

Soon my lettuce seeds and broccoli and brussles sprout trnasplants will go out with a spattering of onions and garlic, soon after potatoes.

It's time to get this party started. :flower:

brownsfan62
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Sugar snap pea seeds were planted last week. I'm hardening off the broccoli, lettuce, and onions this week in anticipation of getting them in the ground this weekend (weather permitting, of course...there's snow in the forecast).

All peppers and tomatoes are now growing under the lights, as are a couple of cabbages. Cukes get planted under the lights next week.

Spring is definitely on its way!!

RyanDe680
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brownsfan62 wrote:Sugar snap pea seeds were planted last week. I'm hardening off the broccoli, lettuce, and onions this week in anticipation of getting them in the ground this weekend (weather permitting, of course...there's snow in the forecast).

All peppers and tomatoes are now growing under the lights, as are a couple of cabbages. Cukes get planted under the lights next week.

Spring is definitely on its way!!
We're at about the same place.

If you plant the cukes next week, when will you put them out? I was going to wait another month before I started mine, grow inside for 4 weeks and then out they go?

I too am in zone 5, but 5a.

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Zapatay
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It's not too early?

Understanding we are expecting 60 degrees - What covering are you using to keep them warm?

What seeds can you put out now besides snap peas?

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rootsy
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Well the greenhouse is finished other than a few more shelves... Mother Nature is going to have to throw at least an EF3 at me to move her this time.

Started head lettuce, cabbage, swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower and egg plant a couple of days ago in the basement... Maintains low 60's down there so they should be up soon enough and once they get some legs I'll move them to the glass hut.

Otherwise I am knee deep in mud and elbow deep in grease and 60 years of accumulated dirt...

I don't like to transplant warm weather plants until at least May 20th here...

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gixxerific
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Be careful you all. It's supposed to be 70 this Fri here in MO but than Sun rain changing to snow with a low of 32.

What I'm saying is it's not over. So don't let me tell you not to plant just be careful and have a plan if frost is coming your way. :lol:

By the way I'm planting more this Fri. :D

Chard, onions, garlic, Nasturtiums already here and there.

Did I ever tell you I don't follow rules. :wink:

The Helpful Gardener
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Do as Gixx says, not as he does :lol:

Do keep a watch on those frost advisories and be ready to cover, you early birds...

HG
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RyanDe680
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Some updates from last night...

Lettuce

[img]https://lh4.ggpht.com/_ps8UrdXb4Jo/S6BKi198Q5I/AAAAAAAAEvk/rcjgPwV25eA/s320/111.JPG[/img]

Broccoli

[img]https://lh6.ggpht.com/_ps8UrdXb4Jo/S6BKjkEvBRI/AAAAAAAAEvo/Y4Y4nhjAtkg/s320/112.JPG[/img]

Peppers (cayenne, banana, bell and jalepeno)

[img]https://lh4.ggpht.com/_ps8UrdXb4Jo/S6BKlNkT5rI/AAAAAAAAEvw/NBD3c2MRK1o/s320/114.JPG[/img]

I'm not putting anything out yet, knowing that it might snow here (outside Chicago) as well on Sunday.... booooo

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gixxerific
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Just so you know HG everything I'm putting in is seeds, so I still have a little time after this frost before they start doing anything. I do have a row cover ready to go as well. :wink:

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nes
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In a further effort to keep me from expanding my garden into his precious lawn :roll: hubby has now offered & is building me some lovely boxes for my veggie beds! :) I've informed him that I'm on to him (especially when he tried to tell me he only had enough wood to cover the distance of the garden last year before I expanded it... LIAR! :D) but never-the-less appreciate the work, I didn't realize how much easier this was!! I can segment my garden & my work into something I can handle in a few hours, wish we'd done it last year!

Anyway - found an onion while I was toiling away. It was a left-over from last year when my onion bulbs flooded (I got one teeny-tiny onion & that was it :( ). So it's not only not had any special treatment but for all intents & purposes, has been terribly mistreated & abused! However, that it's grown a good 3" already, I'm taking it as a sign it's time for the red beauty seeds to go into my newly created bed :).

I've got to get my lettuce out there too. I'm leaving the cauliflower for another week or two (or four, we'll see) until the weather settles.

The toddler has been covered in mud for 4 days straight now - maybe it's a good thing it's supposed to be chilly, wet & miserable this weekend. In the mean time, better get back out in the garden while it's still 16C & sunny, I've more beds to fill.
Vanessa raising organic vegetables, livestock, wildflowers, and family in zone 5A.

GardenJester
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western PA, started my seedling last week. Brandywine tomatoes and long green and purple eggplants so far. The tomatoes seeds just popped out this morning. Still looking around for some good pepper seeds. Cleaned up my planters. Raked the plot, gonna turn over the soil and mix in the compost sitting in my tumbler, then lay down some weed control fabrics this weekend.

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gixxerific
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I planted lettuce seed and onion sets and galic today along witha few flowers seeds. It is supposed to be below 30 Sun than above freezing fro here on out. We shall see about that. :?

I have started now though, I don't care who you are you can't stop me now.

IT'S ON

petalfuzz
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Nothing outside yet, but started salad crops indoors. They will go out by April 15 because that is when I'll be starting my peppers and tomato seeds. Supposed to be 50F today, but all I did this morning was turn the compost. I'm still weeding out my perennial bed, hoping to catch them when they're still dormant. It's working for now!

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