Heat loving plants need care in June

Heat loving plants need care in June

  • Thursday, June 6, 2019 1:30am
  • Opinion

The beginning of June can be a fickle season. Tomatoes, peppers, basil and warmth loving annuals such as zinnias need to get into the ground for a summer harvest but some cool night temperatures can still bother heat loving or tropical plants. Look for the hot spots around your home and garden to make heat loving plants happy.

Hot Spots for Cool Plants

In Western Washington gardens the best place to grow tomatoes, basil or pepper is often in the front yard. This is because the mass of concrete that makes up a driveway or front porch steps can act like a heat bank to absorb warmth during the day and release it at night to potted plants sitting up against the house or on top of concrete.

Save the hot spot against a building that faces South or West for heat hungry tomatoes, peppers, basil and flowers like marigolds, zinnias and geraniums. In our climate, it is the cool June nights that make these plants in pout more than the cool daytime temperatures.

Learn more about growing drought resistant plants in your hot spots on June 8, at Windmill Gardens.

Tomato Growing Tips for Western Washington

Grow tomatoes in the hottest part of your garden. A West or South facing wall is excellent. Plants up against a brick wall or any type of rock, concrete or masonry that absorbs day time heat will reward you with an earlier harvest and happy plants.

Pick a variety of tomato for our cool summer climate. Early Girl, Sweet 100, Oregon Spring and Husky Gold are old favorites but there are hundreds of new tomato varieties including some hardy heirloom tomato varieties that will adapt to our cool nights. Read the labels since they often tell you how many days it takes for the fruit to mature. We have what is considered a short growing season for tomatoes so plants that produce within the shortest number of days (65 days to maturity over 85 days) will be the most gratifying to grow. For container gardens, pick tomato varieties with smaller fruit (cherry tomatoes or patio tomatoes) or varieties that are considered determinate or dwarf. Sometimes these are marked with the letter D on the plant tag.

Pay attention to watering. Tomato plants like moist soil in the beginning of the summer but then require a bit less water as their roots spread out underground. Keeping the soil evenly moist will prevent blossom end rot and other fruit problems.

Tomatoes need fertile soil, but grow best when it is not too rich. A lack of calcium or potasium will cause growing problems, but too much nitrogen will produce plants with lots of green leaves but little fruit. Consider a slow release plant food such as Osmocote that provides a slow but steady supply of nutrients. Some gardeners swear by planting egg shells or banana peels into the ground near their tomato plants. Egg shells provide calcium and banana peels potassium but both take time to break down in the soil.

Bury the stems of your tomato plants. Unlike most plants a tomato start can grow roots from its stem when planted deeper than it was growing in a pot. This means those rather tall and leggy tomato plants you see at the garden center can be buried up to their necks in the soil. If you remove the foliage that will be underground those leaf nodes will sprout roots instead of new leaves and transform into a well rooted and stockier plant. You can also dig a ditch six to eight inches deep and lay a tall tomato plant on its side so that the top one third of the plant is above ground. Remove the foliage that lies in the ditch and cover with the soil.

Don’t miss these gardening events

“Cool Plants for Hot Spots” will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 8 at Windmill Gardens. Register by calling 253-863-5843. Free plants from the class if you bring a friend. Your choice of a four-inch annual plant. Plus tomato growing tips.

“Gig Harbor Customer Appreciation Day” will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 8 at Walrath Landscape Supply. Call 253-858-8184 for more details. Receive “garden tips and tricks for the summer” plus food, sale plants and fun.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@covingtonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.covingtonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Why should the threat to Taiwan concern us in WA? | Brunell

Unfortunately, what happens in Taiwan doesn’t just stay in Taiwan — it… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Election 2021: Closer look at King County races | Roegner

The race for Mayor of Seattle will dominate the regional media, but… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Questions surround vaccine exemptions for state workers | Roegner

With about 4,800 state employees in 24 agencies requesting vaccine exemptions, which… Continue reading

Dr. Jayendrina Singha Ray serves as Faculty of English at Highline College. Her research interests include postcolonial studies, spatial literary studies, British literature, and rhetoric and composition. Prior to teaching in the U.S., she worked as an editor with Routledge and taught English at colleges in India.
What the Afghan wants to say: Arezo’s journey to America | Guest column

In our little Zoom room, I hear my interviewee break into sobs.… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Can a Texas-style abortion law happen in Washington? | Roegner

If politicians really want to anger women voters, the easiest way is… Continue reading

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Reasons to ban Gov. Jay Inslee’s natural gas ban | Brunell

Column: Switching from natural gas to electricity is complicated and will impact everyone.

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He recently retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Vaccinations improve our health and employment numbers | Brunell

It is not surprising that COVID-19, which ravaged the world, was disastrous… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Firefighters vs. the governor’s vaccine mandate | Roegner

We all thought we were in this fight with the coronavirus together,… Continue reading

Providence employees look at anti-vaccine mandate protesters as they cross the street outside of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Aug. 18, 2021. Olivia Vanni/Sound Publishing
Editorial: A message to the unvaccinated and unmasked

We know you’re frustrated with mandates and advice, but consider our frustrations and, yes, our anger.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Back to the classroom during abnormal times | Roegner

If it didn’t feel so normal, we might forget about the coronavirus… Continue reading

9/11 Memorial in Cashmere, Washington. Photo courtesy of Greg Asimakoupoulos
Twenty years after tragedy brought us together | Guest column

Recently, I was reflecting on where I was and what I was… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Next year’s elections are already underway | Roegner

The 2021 session of the Washington State Legislature was dominated by the… Continue reading