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Remind me again why I thought it would be warm now?

18 May 2019

It’s Chicago. It won’t be reliably warm til mid June. I know this and yet somehow I’m taken by surprise every damn year.

I turned the furnace off 3 days ago then turned it back on this morning when I woke up and it was under 60º (15c) in the house. It’s supposed to get up to 80 today but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Anyway, when it got warm last weekend, I took half the tomatoes and all the flowers & most of the herbs, still in their seedling pots, out to the farm, but left the remaining tomatoes, the basil, and the peppers in the Breezeway on the warming mat. So we’ll see how they respectively do. I don’t think it’s been cold enough to actually kill the outside ones (and indeed they look okay), but nothing is growing, not inside or outside. They’re all just sitting there. Oh, except the once-gorgeous marigolds, which are now in really bad shape (not uptaking nutrients- the soil’s just too cold).


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Today is supposed to be last frost date for me, but it’s still cold at night. I transplanted some flowers and vegetables outside a week or so ago and while they are not dying they are also not growing.

I’ve never paid this much attention to weather so I was wondering if it’s normal. Given you’re also in zone 5b I guess I can extrapolate your experience and conclude that it won’t be reliably warm until mid June for me either.

I’m so tempted to transplant my tomatoes & tomatillos & eggplants & peppers outside. As long as it’s not freezing it doesn’t harm them, right?

Posted on 18 May 19 (about 1 month ago)

By the lake Chicago is actually Zone 6, however, while frost threat ends in early May, because of the lake we have this widely erratic spring weather. While the ground does warm up by early May (my thermometer has been registering about 55 since late April in fact) April and May can have 50+ degree temp swings within a single week (for instance, this week there will be a low in the low 40s and a high over 80). Then there’s the 4" rainfalls.

Anyway, even your tender plants will be fine as long as the soil is 50º, 4" down, first thing in the morning. To be extra cautious, make cloches (clear covers) out of old double liter soda bottles— just cut the bottom off. You can upend a clear storage bin over the plants, too.

Posted on 20 May 19 (about 1 month ago)

Here’s what soda bottle cloches look like—https://www.flickr.com/photos/8416387@N08/3413219066/in/photolist-7WwU4k-7RG58W-6cBD7A

I like the ones with the bottom rather than the top cut off, so you get some air flow.

Posted on 20 May 19 (about 1 month ago)

I was going to move my plants outside tomorrow but it hailed during breakfast today so I’m waffling. I have row cover over the whole bed so that offers a bit of protection, but I wasn’t sure if that’s enough.

I will bring out my soil thermometer and measure at 4" tomorrow morning and see.

Posted on 20 May 19 (about 1 month ago)

Hah- I went racing out into the thunderstorm yesterday because I don’t think I’ve ever seen it rain that hard, and I’ve been in a tornado. I got really really wet, but I saved the plants! (put them inside the rain barrel platform)

Posted on 20 May 19 (about 1 month ago)

Where else would you put plantlings during a deluge but under a rain barrel – at first I read it as in the rain barrel!

Posted on 02 Jun 19 (24 days ago)

lololol! There’s actually a reasonably protected shelf underneath my meter-high rainbarrel stand. It still gets rainy down there, but it’s protected from these deluges.

Posted on 04 Jun 19 (23 days ago)

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