The Big Weekend



When it comes to perennials, the greedier and more impulsive I am, the better-looking my garden gets. In the vegetable garden, however, it pays to be patient.

In Zone 4, this means waiting out some really warm spring days before even thinking of planting tomatoes and beans.  "Memorial Day," my sage friend Gerald told me when I first moved to Washington County 15 years ago.

I scoffed. "It’s been warm for weeks," I said.

"Memorial Day," he reiterated. "That’s when the farmers plant.  And we can still get a frost Memorial Day weekend."

For some vegetables, even Memorial Day weekend may be too early.  Last year, I planted waves of squash and melon seedlings into mid-June, as all the early ones died of misery in the too-cold ground.

It’s been cold this week, so the curcubits can wait. The big jobs for me this weekend, recovery from Lyme flu permitting, are to mulch the main paths in the vegetable garden with pine bark before weeds explode in them and go to Clearbrook Farm in Shaftsbury, VT to buy seedlings.

That’s a really pleasant job, because they also have an amazing selection of interesting perennials, huge plants at just $7 a pop.  And in that section of the nursery, it doesn’t pay to be restrained. 


  1. I confess, I always tend to plant too early. I knew I wouldn’t get another frost after the beginning of May (our last frost this year was April 15th) but it can still be cold. So instead of planting at a reasonable time, I just protect my plants. Sometimes I’m just too impatient and protecting them seems worth the trouble. However I am waiting to plant my eggplants. They won’t go in until next week if the weather report is favorable.

  2. I should’ve waited to plant the melons. They died of hypothermia. The cukes look ok, only two succumbed to the cool.

    Today, a real warm day, one of the melons was trying to return from the dead, a zombie melon.

    Now I know. I will be needing a small greenhouse.

  3. In Seattle we have to wait forever to plant warm season crops, but the best selection at plant sales and nurseries is inexplicably in early May. So I buy early and then up pot everything so they can keep growing. My back porch is a sea of containers at this time of year.

  4. I have to admit to a certain smugness towards people who plant out *way* too early: mid-late April for tomatoes in Wisconsin is just asking for it. And it’s supposed to frost tonight.
    I get so anxious to begin gardening, and then to begin planting, that it always seems like a good idea to start early.

Comments are closed.