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Soil Temps vs. Planting Early

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Soil Temps vs. Planting Early

Post  landarch on 1/26/2012, 1:00 am

I am in Zone 5b (NE Kansas) and old timers I talk with are pretty steadfast on consistent planting dates for veggies no matter what the current weather...for example, tomatoes always go in May 15th. On multiple experiments, some are planted a few weeks early and some on May 15th...and later in the season, there is not difference in the plants (health, height, yield, etc.).

So why the push to plant so early? Is it different for spring gardens? Is it a case of cabin fever...needing to get out and do some gardening eventhough it may not make a big difference?



I am new to the site...and also new to spring and fall gardens...just trying to develop Spring Garden plan of action for my zone. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Soil Temps vs. Planting Early

Post  Chopper on 1/26/2012, 1:32 am

I am wondering, especially with tomatoes if it has more to do with day length than soil temp? Or maybe a combination. And are the old timers citing real studies or just repeating something someone said without fact checking? I don't know. I would be curious if it is worth it too.

And in colder climes, it never effing fails that a mild winter will snort out one crappy freezing week right before Easter just to show us all who is boss.

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Re: Soil Temps vs. Planting Early

Post  landarch on 1/26/2012, 3:04 am

Their info came from actual experiences in their own garden over the years. After the days lengthen and the soil warms up, one can't really tell what went in early vs. late. There in an increased risk of loss by going early (weather) so there really doesn't seem to be an advantage.

The only reason I asked the question is I am planning my first ever spring garden...The earliest recommendation from the KSU Extension Service is mid-March for any species of vegetable. I've been seeing others post about spring planting already in my same zone (5b) and was getting a little confused on why so early?
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Re: Soil Temps vs. Planting Early

Post  walshevak on 1/26/2012, 6:01 am

Cabin fever is my excuse. But I also chose to do my push in this so I can move it into the mini greenhouse, JIC. And it is only a few seeds not a big bed.

last year's peas and mesculan in the chairtop garden. Planted early Feb. This pic is from 3 April. No hoops or greenhouse for protection. They sprouted in about 2 weeks but grew very slowly until the days got longer and the nights warmed more.


I'm antsy not crazy. And the peas grew but did not produce until about the same time as some planted later. There is a reason the locals call these MAY PEAS. Very Happy

22 May and I've been eating peas for about 3 weeks



Kay

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Re: Soil Temps vs. Planting Early

Post  Squat_Johnson on 1/26/2012, 10:08 am

I agree that over time, plants like tomatoes will _sometimes_ catch up.

Many early crops are overlooked by "old timers"(row gardeners) Usually the startup times are based on the first time you can "work the ground" - that is, plow and till in a garden that is usually too wet to work.

I will be eating lettuce and snow peas from my SFG before some row gardeners can get their tractor pulled out of the mud.
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Re: Soil Temps vs. Planting Early

Post  boffer on 1/26/2012, 10:21 am

What's the rush? Spring fever and garden fresh food. Like SJ said, in our SFG boxes we can plant anytime the MM isn't frozen.

Note that early spring planting is mostly for cool crops. Warm season crops need the warm soil for seeds to germinate and plants to grow.

I would plant cool crops early, and watch the old timers for warm crops.

Hey Chopper, come watch my tomatoes sit stagnant for weeks in the middle of summer! The night time lows shut them down.
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Re: Soil Temps vs. Planting Early

Post  quiltbea on 1/26/2012, 1:07 pm

I've tried to rush tomatoes and it didn't work, except for the ones in the covered A-frame that were kept warmer nights and days both. Outside, pre-warming the soil beforehand didn't help my toms. Even the extra early Oregon Springs that can be transplanted outside a whole month before last frost date, hardly grew at all in the cold days but still, it was nice to see something green growing at all. And yes, they were among my earliest harvesters, and the fruits weren't very tasty (but better than store-bought). Those planted a month later and were bred for early harvest, weren't very far behind the Oregons.

I found that those bred for late season, won't produce til late season so why the rush to put such stress on their early growth?

In general, tomato transplants of the same variety, put in later, will catch up with their bretheren transplanted a few weeks ealier.

Many of the cool weather crops, on the other hand, are harvested earlier because they can take the cooler soil anyway and an even earlier start helps you get earlier harvests.
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Re: Soil Temps vs. Planting Early

Post  shannon1 on 1/27/2012, 3:48 am

I'm betting on an early spring this year, even though Feb has been the coldest month 2 yrs running. I'm a half full kind of gal. It has been such a mild winter I still have to egg plants that overwintered they are looking a little sorry to be sure but I'm banking that their more developed root systems will give 'em a head start over new trans plants. I am planning on entering the county's gardening contest this year so any advantage I can get will be a help. Planted some spring onions just this morning.
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Re: Soil Temps vs. Planting Early

Post  Furbalsmom on 1/27/2012, 1:56 pm

Shannon

Did you know that eggplants are perennials? They are very tender perennials and frost sensitive (even more so than tomatoes) so are grown as annuals in most regions.

I applaud you for being able to maintain those two eggplant all winter. I'll bet that being overwintered, they will produce early for you.
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Re: Soil Temps vs. Planting Early

Post  landarch on 1/27/2012, 4:04 pm

I just noticed my blanketflower has already sent up fresh gree leaves about 4-5" tall already...crazy for Kansas City. There was just an article published in the KC Star that says the USDA zone maps have been redrawn by the feds and KC is now in Zone 6.
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Re: Soil Temps vs. Planting Early

Post  walshevak on 1/27/2012, 7:42 pm

Don't often go into my side yard during winter months, but today I was walking around the house. Lo and behold, my hyacinths are blooming. Finally got a few camellia blooms, but the bush is looking bad. Think last summers drought caused some damage.

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Re: Soil Temps vs. Planting Early

Post  shannon1 on 1/28/2012, 2:15 am

Furbalsmom wrote:Shannon

Did you know that eggplants are perennials? They are very tender perennials and frost sensitive (even more so than tomatoes) so are grown as annuals in most regions.

I applaud you for being able to maintain those two eggplant all winter. I'll bet that being overwintered, they will produce early for you.
Yes, and peppers too. I can't take the credit for overwintering them, just a mild winter and nature being kind to me so far.
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