Is This Tomato Planting Day?


Tomato plants in a ring culture (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Even though I don’t grow tomatoes I know a gardening rule of thumb from 40 years ago:  “Don’t plant tomatoes outdoors in Pittsburgh until Memorial Day.”

But times have changed.  Our growing season is longer than it used to be. USDA’s 2012 Plant Hardiness Zone map has a warm stripe that follows the Monongahela and Ohio valleys.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map for Pennsylvania as of May 2018 (map from USDA.gov)
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map for Pennsylvania as of May 2018 (map from USDA.gov)

Neighborhood gardening friends know it, too. They told me, “You can plant tomatoes in mid-May if you want.”

Well, believe it or not I’m not a gardener.  When the growing season arrives I spend all my time birding.  Around Memorial Day (today) I glance at the garden and think, “Something must be done!”  I go out there with my Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide and identify what’s growing. I pull out only the noxious weeds and leave everything else in place. At least I know king devil when I see it.

Today isn’t tomato planting day at my house, but I might pull a weed or two.

(photo from Wikimedia Commons, map from USDA. Click on the captions to see the originals)