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It’s tomato planting time

It’s time to transplant tomatoes. Plant seedlings deep for good roots.
It’s time to transplant tomatoes. Plant seedlings deep for good roots. Sacramento Bee file

Got tomatoes? Or, more precisely, tomato plants in the ground? Tuesday is Sacramento’s unofficial tomato planting day, a date when local gardeners tend to have the greatest success with their transplants. By that date each spring, the soil has sufficiently warmed and the chance of a rogue hail storm (like we experienced in early April) is almost nil.

With recent warm weather, many gardeners jumped the calendar and already put their seedlings out. But if you waited, your patience will be rewarded with strong, fast growth.

Plant tomato seedlings deep; pinch off the lower leaves so only the top leaves and branches will be above soil. This promotes more root growth along the buried stem – and faster development of tomatoes. Form a basin or soil berm around each plant, so water can soak in deeply when you irrigate. That way, you’ll be able to use less water – and water less often – during this dry summer.

Elsewhere in the garden:

▪ Besides tomato transplants, start setting out seedling eggplants and peppers.

▪ Now is prime time for planting summer vegetable seed, too. Among those you can plant now from seed: lima and snap beans, carrots, chard, corn, cucumbers, melons, okra, pumpkins, soybeans, squash and watermelon.

▪ In the flower garden, it’s also time to plant seeds (or transplants) for alyssum, aster, celosia, cleome, cosmos, four o’clocks, marigold, morning glory, periwinkle, rudbeckia, salvia, sunflower, verbena and zinnia.

▪ Watch out for snails and slugs. They love tender new growth. Go snail hunting with a flashlight an hour after dark. Hand-pick the critters and dispose of them.

Debbie Arrington

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