Despite the plethora of vegetable starts available throughout Northern California, late March (and early April) is still too early for many of the heat loving vegetables to be thrust into the ground, unprotected. Soil temperatures in the area are still in the mid-50's, too cold for tomato and pepper plants to put on any active growth. And the less active the growth cycle, the less ability the plant has to stave off insect and disease problems.
One way to determine the best time to plant your summer vegetable garden:
Sit in the garden bed for 60 seconds. If you can stay there, comfortably, go ahead and plant.
• Build a tall fence or plant tall shrubs first.
• Have a hose ready.
For the fearful and fenceless among you, get a soil thermometer.
SOIL TEMPERATURES FOR VEGETABLE SEEDS
Average Soil Temperatures/2009/Mid-Month Readings
Four-Station Valley Averages (Sacramento, San Joaquin, Yolo, Sutter Counties)
(Soil temperature readings (F) taken 6" deep)