Beware the Urge to Plant

The days are getting longer and warmer.


The grass is getting greener and the ground is warming up.

green pastures

And I’m ready to play in the dirt and plant my garden!

While it’s ok to plant cold season crops like broccoli, lettuce, and spinach now, it’s still too cold to plant tomatoes and peppers in the ground.

I was at a local big box store a few days ago and couldn’t believe how many people were buying tomato plants.  Yesterday, as I was visiting my local Farmer’s Co-op I noticed the same phenomenon.  I asked the guy that checked me out why they sold tomato plants so early.  He said people start asking for them in March and if they don’t get them early, they will go somewhere else to buy them.  “Do they know it’s too early to plant them?”, I asked.  He laughed and said, “Yes, but the urge to have to have the first tomato of the season is too strong for some people.”

He’s right.

My dad has always had a garden.  He knows better than to plant early, yet one year he planted 80 tomato plants the first of April.  I reminded him that our last freeze date is April 15th.  I also reminded him that when we grew tomatoes commercially, they did not even give us the plants until May 15th.

He planted them anyway.  We had a freeze.  They all died except 3.  He bought more and replanted.

I think we all know the moral to this story.

So, for those of us in NW Arkansas, the last average freeze date is April 15th.  I always wait and plant my warm season veggies (tomatoes, peppers, corn, squash, okra) the end of April/first of May.  (If you remember last year, we had a very rare snow May 3rd).

By waiting (and I know it’s hard), you allow the ground to warm, too.  Plopping a tomato in the cold ground may make you feel better, but cold soil could slow down the growth later on.  Studies have shown that tomatoes planted early typically produced tomatoes the same time as those planted late.  Same goes for peppers.

Seeds may not germinate in cold soil, either.  Corn and okra, for example, like warm soil too.  You might get lucky and have some germinate early, but most likely they will sit in the ground and rot and, well, that’s just not right.

So, around mid-April, start keeping an eye on the weather and extended forecasts.  Be patient. Warmer weather will happen this month!


p.s  my meat chicks arrived yesterday! Stay tuned….







About the blonde gardener

I'm an Arkansas girl born and raised. I garden in the beautiful Northwest part of the state (zone 6b or 7) surrounded by the Ozark Mountains. My favorite part about the area is we have 4 distinct seasons and are able to enjoy a variety of activities. My main passion is gardening but I also enjoy hiking, birding, 4-wheeling and motorcycle trips. Basically anything outside. Thanks for stopping by! Brenda
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13 Responses to Beware the Urge to Plant

  1. Buffy says:

    But I really want to plant today! Lucky for my plants, I just do have time today! Good advice!


  2. The Dancing Rider says:

    You are very wise!


  3. Oh, you are so wise! 🙂 Interested in your chickens. Pig-farmer would like to try meat chickens. Me, not so much. I’m more interested in layers. But, after the winter of 2014, I’m not sure I want them anymore. More to worry about! 😉


    • The great thing about meat chickens is you are done in about 8 weeks. I’ve never done them before–I hope it works. Am doing a post about them for tomorrow. But I know what you mean. Kind of ties you down for a while. I hate to say my layers tie me down (cause I really do love them), we have to get a “chicken sitter” when we go away for the weekend.


  4. Chicken sitter! Me too! We use a sweet young 4-H’er who hope to be a veterinarian. She even tamed one of mine for me, last time I had to be gone. 🙂
    My mother-in-law raises meat chickens every year–100 of them so she can have fried chicken dinner every Sunday. Harvest time is a big deal, involving all the hands she can get. She taught me all I know about that harvest, and although I find it a very unpleasant job, after 100 of them, I could never forget how! 🙂
    It was a gift for her to help me learn how to take care of myself and her son…


    • My daughter-in-law is great about helping out. Plus she gets paid in eggs! I haven’t processed chickens in years but we will get together as a family as see what we can accomplish. Several people have commented on wanting to learn how to do this. My brother-in-law has constructed a plucker that sounds very interesting. Won’t be my favorite part of the job, but we will do our best.


  5. Oh, I almost forgot!
    We always plant our tomatoes too early and then when a frosty night comes along, we end up putting every waste basket, 1-gallon pot, and sawed-off milk jug out there to protect them. It’s always a cold, clumsy job to do at night in a rush, usually in our good clothing after some excursion, totally unplanned, and hilarious.
    We never learn. 😳


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