Monday, April 14, 2008

Last Frost (I Hope!) and Tomato Planting

  Oklahoma City's average "last frost" is listed somewhere between early and middle April (depending on what source you're using), and last night was just about at 32.  We brought in many of the plants and covered the rest, including the garden.

P4140043  P4140042

P4140040 P4140041

Everything made it through the night without a problem.  I'm not even totally sure it got to freezing at any point.

But the really wonderful thing is that I'm pretty sure that's the last night we have to worry about freezing temperatures at all.  Before I'd even finished my coffee this morning, I was out in the garden planting the tomatoes!  The results:



They look so tiny now that they're up to their necks in garden soil!  It was sad to see them go from looking like impressive tomato plants to itty bitty seedlings again, but I'll appreciate myself for that later in the season though, when they're growing strong because of their deep, fabulous root systems.  I'm really going to have to work at containing them in their cages, but at least the cages seem quite sturdy once all four have been tied together.

So, what tomato plants wound up in the garden?

Two Pink Brandywines:




One Supersweet 100:



One Genovese:


The Genovese is a new plant I purchased for 75 cents at the farmer's market this Saturday.  The third Brandywine I was going to put in the garden is still clearly stunted from lack of water when it was a tiny seedling, so it's not likely to ever produce much.  I'm keeping it in a small pot for a little while just incase anything happens to the other Brandywines, but he's pretty much out of the running now.

I also planted the other Supersweet 100 in one of my largest pots, added a purple basil (I always try to pair a basil with my tomato plants!), and set it just outside the back steps:


He looks positively dwarfed next to that full-grown basil!  But it's all for the sake of a good root system, and soon he'll be the one doing the towering.

As for the hanging Red Robin tomato plants, one of them has two reddening tomatoes!  I'll surely take photos and gloat as soon as they're ready to pick.


Mick said...

Well maybe you folks in OKC had it nice and mild at 32 but here in the NE corner it was definately below 25, maybe as low as 20. The blossoms on both my peach trees got a pretty big shock last night, as did Tommy the cat who decided to spend the night out (probably cos the mousing's good at the moment). He looked pretty shell shocked when I let him in at 5-45am :-(
I've decided to hang on a while with the tomato plants .... perhaps until the end of the month.

Elizabeth said...

Oh no, Mick! That sucks. :(

I'm just crossing my fingers that this really is the last of it for us. It'll be tough to cover the garden now that those huge cages are in it!

One Acre Homestead said...

LOL! I was sweatin' it Sunday night, too, but it looks like all is well on the homestead. Mick, I'm so sorry about your peaches. This is our first year to have fruit trees, so we aren't expecting much fruit, but we are seeing a few teeny tiny pears and peaches. I was so afraid we'd get a hard freeze, but I didn't know how to protect a tree!!

Elizabeth said...

I'm glad the homestead faired well! The only thing I could think of for protecting a fruit trees in a hard freeze would be what the orange grove farmers did in Florida, which is to turn on the sprinklers all night. Apparently, a shell of frozen ice is warmer for the fruit than being exposed directly to the cold air? That's how my father explained it. He always did the same for his lawn when we lived down there.

Sarah said...

I'm just getting into the urban vegetable garden thing for the first time, and a friend pointed me towards your blog. You seem like a kindred spirit!

I have a question...maybe you'll have an answer. I have a few potted tomato plants, much like the one in the above picture. What are you using there as a stake/cage for the plant? All the tomato cages I saw at Lowe's were too big for my pots, and the little stake thingy I have doesn't seem like it will be supportive enough when the plant gets bigger.

Elizabeth said...

Hey Sarah, Welcome to my blog! :)

Most potted tomatoes definitely need more than one stake. The metal sticks you see around my potted tomato plant are the lower ends of a fairly small tomato cage. (In the garden, the wooden looking stakes are bamboo.) If you can't find a tomato cage the right size for your pots, you might try something like something like this little bamboo frame, which I've seen at Home Depot. A great DIY option that would fit anything would be to create your own frame from three or four stakes in the shape of a teepee, sort of like in this photo.

Good luck with your tomatoes!