When I decided to gamble and plant a few vegetable plants early this year, I only planted as many tomatoes as I had spare plastic trash cans. Heavy plastic trash cans are useful in such a plethora of ways that I couldn’t help myself a few years ago when, upon entering the garden section of the local Home Depot, I noticed eight or nine big trash cans listed for sale, but with no matching lids to be found. I negotiated a cheaper price as a result of their lidlessness, and have been completely delighted with the purchase ever since.
They came in handy yesterday. I was a little worried that we’d get another cold snap, and I’d lose my gambled maters. But no, it turns out the wind is this spring’s culprit. We had sustained wind of 20 miles per hour, with gusts up to 30 mph or so. I could see it was really beginning to stress out some of the plants, so I moved all my still-potted tomatoes and peppers into the garage, and turned the trash cans over on top of each of the already-planted tomatoes. The plastic retains heat, but not excessively, since they let in no sunlight. As a wind-block, they are great.
The wind was supposed to be just as strong today, but it hasn’t turned out to be so. Right now it’s 66 with just the beginnings of a westerly breeze. Tonight, and for the next two after that, the temperatures allegedly will drop to 45. While tomatoes can easily survive that slight chill, it could be enough to shock them sufficiently that they stop growing for a few days. (It’s called “checking their growth.”) That would undo my whole purpose in planting the ‘mater plants early. So to prevent it from happening, I’ll just make sure the plastic trash cans are in place over the tomato plants this afternoon, to give the air plenty of time to warm up inside. While the rest of the grounds may hit 45, inside the trash cans I expect it will remain above 50 degrees – warm enough to prevent growth check. It’s worth the small effort to me, as several of the plants already have tomatoes, which is a ranch record. Fastidious care, or global warming?
Also, at least one of the fig trees has decided it’s OK to start setting fruit. This doesn’t mean spring officially has arrive early, however. Figs and other fruit trees are easily and often fooled by an early warm spell.
This year, I hope they’re right.