Basket of Tomatoes
Online Resources / :

Planting Hot Crops in June

If you have not already done so, the time has arrived to plant those hot season crops such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, cucumbers, corn and basil. You can use special protection such as a cold frame, cloche, or Wall-o-Water if the nights are still cool. If you plant without protection, be sure to harden-off the plants first!

Hardening-off your plants means adjusting them to being outside in direct sun and exposed to the cool night air. Transplants come out of greenhouses, your kitchen window or the nursery and need to get used to being outdoors. Here’s how to harden-off your plants:

  • Put your plants outside during the day, in an area where they get some sun, but not all day sun. If practical, you can increase the time outside by a few hours each day for about a week.
  • At night, bring your plants into your garage, breezeway, or other cool, protected place.

Remember that hot weather crops like a lot of sun so make sure you have placed them where they will be warm, in full sun (6-8 hours a day) and protected from cool winds. Take advantage of warm spots in your garden to tuck them into. Stone and concrete can warm up am area and radiate heat back at night which is good for the plants.

If you are growing vegetables in containers, use a premium potting soil (not garden soil, topsoil or straight compost) which allows for adequate drainage. Clay and wood pots dry out easily so make sure you are checking your plants frequently in warm weather so they don’t dry out. Re-using plastic nursery pots is a good use for them and keeps them out of the waste stream.

Water your garden early in the morning to conserve water and give the soil a chance to warm up during the day. This also helps to prevent fungal diseases on your plants. Watering during the hot time of the day wastes water, so get your watering done before noon. Water at the base of your plants to avoid getting the leaves wet and prevent diseases.

Fertilize with organic based fertilizers. You will be looking for the ingredients to list items like fish meal, alfalfa meal, bone meal and other organic materials. The NPK, or nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium content will never be higher than 10-10-10 on the label. This type of fertilizer feeds the soil and does not pollute our groundwater. Your plants and the environment will be healthier for your choice.