New England

May, 2002
Regional Report

Support Tomatoes

Set your tomato supports in place before plants get too large. Smaller determinate varieties can be supported with small cages, but larger indeterminate varieties need large cages or tall stakes. Secure cages with stakes so they don't topple.

Plant in Rows

Some gardeners sow seeds by scattering them in the bed, and that's fine if you're confident of your ability to differentiate between weed and crop seedlings. A safer bet is to plant your seeds in rows, especially seeds that germinate slowly, such as carrots. By marking rows you'll be able to stay ahead of weeds between the rows.

Water Properly

Newly planted seeds need frequent watering -- daily, or even twice daily in hot, dry weather. Transplants may need daily watering until they\'ve had a chance to send their roots out into the surrounding soil. Once established, most plants need a deep, weekly drink, if nature doesn\'t supply it.

Be Prepared to Protect Plants

We're not out of the woods yet, weatherwise. Be prepared to cover tender plants if a cold snap threatens. Peppers, eggplant, and basil are particularly susceptible to chill damage; tomatoes are slightly more tolerant but still should be covered if temperatures are predicted to drop into the 40s.

Use Row Covers

Use row covers to protect seed beds from marauding birds. Once the seedlings are 2 or 3 inches tall, it\'s probably safe to remove the covers. However, you might want to keep them in place to exclude pests. Remove covers once plants begin to flower, so pollinators can do their jobs.

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