First, a huge thank you to all the men and women who have served our country and are serving our country this Memorial Day–it’s because of your sacrifices that I have the freedom to plant my tomatoes.
Here in the Northeast, and especially this incredibly warm year, gardeners keep “pushing the envelope” on when they can plant things. Most gardeners plant around Mother’s Day–but in my recent memory–still in this decade in my neighborhood–there have been snow squalls as late as May 15.
I use the old farmer’s adage that when the oak leaves are as large as little mouses’ ears (not mice ears, for some reason) we have had the last frost. That one has never let me down, even this year when we’ve had some really crazy weather–but of course I’m using actual oaks on my property so I’m getting fairly site specific.
But one thing I don’t plant, even after the oaks have leafed out, are those warm weather loving crops like peppers, tomatoes and basil. For one thing, they just don’t grow. For another, there’s evidence that setting them out when the weather is still too cool can actually stunt their growth and cause them to set fruit (with respect to the tomatoes and pepper that is) later than they would normally.
This is the garden, pre-planting. Obviously, I don’t wait to plant everything–there are some nice looking herbs in there, and some lettuces and radishes.
For me, planting on Memorial Day is just a way of honoring and remembering my Dad, who was a World War II veteran. He used to plant his tomatoes on Memorial Day too even though he lived south of where I do now. So it’s just sort of a tradition passed down and one that I can remember and one very small way of honoring a veteran that I knew and loved.
Somewhere, I hope Dad is smiling and would approve!