On Saturday I went out to my community garden plot (with Jazmin, a new gardening friend – thanks for the company!). My intention: to plant some of the tomato seedlings I started from seed. They’d been sitting on my open windowsill, getting used to the cool night temperatures. Some of them were also starting to outgrow their 3-inch peat pots. I decided that April 3rd was moving day for the biggest ones.
Yes, yes, the calendar says it’s way too early to plant tomatoes outdoors in this area. The average last frost date for DC is April 15th, and it’s usually recommended that you transplant tomatoes a week after that. But seriously, have you looked outside? Have you SEEN the 10-day forecast??? It’s going to be 90 degrees today and tomorrow, and there’s not a single overnight low under 50 degrees predicted for the next 10 days.
Of course, when I got to the garden, the veteran gardeners in the neighboring plots told me I was crazy to plant the tomatoes this early. Juan, the Argentine gardening guru whom I generally trust, said there could easily be a freak snowstorm or hard frost and that the blood of my poor, doomed tomatoes was on my hands. This was rather demoralizing. But it’s not like I came unprepared. I built some protective tepees out of Reemay, and I laid down straw for added insulation:
I don’t think I’m crazy. I don’t think we’re going to get a freak snowstorm or even a mild frost. I think I’m going to be laughing all the way to the salad bowl in early June when I get some seriously early heirloom tomatoes. And if my hubris gets the best of me, I have backup seedlings. It’s worth the risk, dammit!