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Too early for tomatoes?

Peas? Sure.

Kale? You betcha.

Tomatoes? Are you out of your mind?

Look, I"m going to say this and I'm going to say this once: IT'S TOO EARLY TO PLANT TOMATOES.

This is Minnesota, people A place where snow is not uncommon -- in May. Where the average last frost date is mid-May, for the Twin Cities. Later, up north.

I know it's supposed to be really nice this week and maybe even this weekend. But what about next week? And the week after that? Can you guarantee your tomato plants temps about 50? I didn't think so. . .

Tomatoes, along with their pals pepper, are tropical plants. That means they don't like cold. They like frost even less.

There are plenty of things you can plant now -- risk free: radishes, and leaf lettuce and spinach and carrots and kohlrabi. They like the cold, or, like Iowans, they don't mind it. If the temps take a dive, they'll just hunker down and wait for the weather to warm.

Tomatoes and peppers, though, can get stunted, lose leaves, even be killed by a frost.

So, if you just gotta jump the gun on something, plant some kale. (Everybody loves kale, right?) Fertilize your lawn. (It's a little early, but the grass is growing actively.) Or how about planting some pansies? A pot of those smiley faced flowers will last way beyond what I consider the Unofficial Official Safe Date for Tomatoes: Memorial Day!

Alright, already! YOU CAN RAKE NOW!

If you didn't rake that first nice weekend in early March (and I know lots of you did), I hereby grant you permission to rake now.

Who am I to grant such a thing? Why, I'm the Greengirl who spends most of late winter and early spring begging you not to torture your vulnerable grass plants. I'm the Greengirl who tells about the evils of a lawn so badly damaged by premature raking that no amount of tender loving care (aerating, watering, fertilizing) can bring it back.

I'm the Greengirl who spends so much time and energy telling you NOT to rake that I forget to remind you TO rake.


You don't have to take my word for it. Take the word of Sam Bauer, a turfgrass expert with the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

Says Bauer: When the ground is firm (not squishy), when the grass is actively growing and mostly green, THEN you can rake.

But he's cautious, like me. He advises waiting to water the lawn. And waiting -- at least a week or two -- to fertilize.

He understands that good lawns come to those who wait.