The Coeur d’Alene Coop will be at the UI Extension Master Gardeners Sod Buster plant sale on Saturday, May 6th, from 9 am to 1 pm at the Extension office parking lot, 1808 N. 3rd, in Coeur d’Alene. We’ll have a good selection of heirloom tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, snap peas, and herbs (chocolate mint, basil, chives). Cucumbers, squash, Italian parsley, and cilantro starts will be available later in May.
When to Plant
If you’re itchin’ to get scratchin’ in the dirt, wait no longer! It looks like we may have finally turned the corner and are headed into real spring weather — and it’s about time. Our region’s last average day of frost is May 15, so now is a good time to start preparing your vegetable beds and purchasing tomatoes and peppers while the selections are good.
Some folks plant when there is no longer snow on Rathdrum Mountain. That seems reasonable, as lower “micro-climates” in the valleys would be much warmer. I generally follow the temperature rule: planting when the the nighttime temperatures are consistently at 50 degrees.
I’ll often sacrifice a few plants and put them in early — as “bell wethers” to see how they do. If after a few nights they’re still standing tall and flourishing, I’ll start planting more. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the weather — if it looks like we’re in for a cold, wet spell, I recommend waiting to plant until the conditions are better. There is nothing as sad as a cold, struggling tomato start. Better to plant later, than to try to nurse along a plant that has been stressed.
Soil Tests & Fertilizers
While we wait on the weather, now is a good time to loosen the soil in the beds and add any amendments needed. If you’re not sure what to add, I highly recommend getting a soil test. You can find these in garden stores, but your best bet is to pick up a soil testing kit from your local County Extension office.
The results take a couple of weeks, but it’s well worth the wait to start the season knowing the condition of your soil.
When it’s time to plant, I always feed my starts with fish emulsion — this stuff stinks — but the smell only lasts a day or so and the benefits far outweigh the stink! Some people actually bury fish heads below the plants — it’s the same concept as fish emulsion, but I’m not sure where you’d source fish heads this far inland? Fish emulsion is readily available at most garden centers.
A recent post on social media touted the “home remedy” of adding Epsom salt to the soil when planting peppers. Please, whatever you do, do not add Epsom salt to your soil! This “old wives solution” for making peppers grow better has been around for a long time, but it does not work. All it does is increase the salinity of your soil — and that is not something you want to do. If your soil is healthy and well amended, and you are planting healthy stock, the only thing you need to add for good growth is a little fertilizer (preferably fish emulsion). Hold the salt on those peppers!
Where to Find Us This Season
In addition to the season opener at the Sod Buster sale, we will also be at the Saturday and Wednesday Kootenai County Farmers’ Markets through mid-June.
Of course, you are invited to shop from our garden in Midtown Coeur d’Alene. Call or text for garden times (208.640.6514). You can see our complete list of tomato varieties here and our vegetable starts here. Happy gardening!
Life’s a Garden — Dig It!