Tuesday, January 31, 2012

.tomato dowsing for spring.

On the heels of a surprisingly mild winter (despite Weather Canada's deep freeze forecast), a tentatively mild spring seems to be approaching us West-Coasters. The unpredictable nature of living on the coast can make planning for your garden a bit tricky.

Last year, garden centers were practically bare on May Long Weekend, a holiday that usually marks the true beginning of gardening season. The season never really took off either; my tomatoes started to produce in early August and lasted well into November, which resulted in some rather mealy fruit. Other years, spring's first crocuses have popped up in mid-February. What's a lay-gardener with a penchant for the nightshade family to do?

Given the fairly balmy winter, I've decided to throw caution to the wind this year and start my tomatoes a little early. The recommendation is to start tomatoes indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost, which according to my mother's almanac is in May. Now, last May was unseasonably chilly, but for those of us hugging the shoreline, a frost was nowhere to be found. As much as I may not buy into a 'gut feeling', I'm going with my coastal intuition this year and follow my internal planting guide. With a bright, south facing kitchen window, the worst case scenario for my tomatoes is an extra week or two hanging out in my breakfast nook*.

*Also known as my kitchen/dining room/recording studio.