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If tomatoes didn’t survive, try again

This spring has been tricky. It started out like summer with temperatures pushing into the 80s. Then, surprise! It hailed.

If you were one of the folks who jumped the calendar and planted tomatoes early, don’t fret. If the hail smashed your seedlings, there’s still time to replant – and start over.

Keep an eye on soil temperature, a real key to early garden success. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beans, squash and cucumbers need warmer soil to grow and develop, at least 50 degrees or above.

When is the soil warm enough to plant your favorite summer vegetables and flowers? Try the old “sit” test: If you can sit five minutes in shorts on bare ground, the soil is warm enough to start planting (again) for summer.

▪ Did your soil pass the sit test? In the vegetable garden, you can plant seeds for lima and snap beans, beets, carrots, celery, chard, cucumbers, endive, fennel, jicama, melons, mustard, okra, potatoes, radish, soybeans, spinach, summer and winter squash, turnips and watermelon.

▪ Start to set out tomatoes as ground temperatures warm. Tomatoes need nighttime temperatures above 50 degrees. Wait on peppers and eggplants until early May; they like it hotter.

▪ Plant summer bulbs including dahlias, lilies and gladioluses. They’re surprisingly drought tolerant, too.

▪ Weed, weed, weed. Pull them out before they flower. Think of them as water wasters.

Debbie Arrington

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