Spring Planting Tip #2: It’s time to get planting!

Each Wednesday,  KBOO Community Radio hosts a gardening program called The Dirtbag.  We were inspired to write this post by this week’s show titled “Gardening All Things Edible.”

The average last frost date in the Portland area is around April 23rd. (If you are located somewhere else in Oregon, a good resource is Victory Seed’s Average First and  Last  Frost Dates for Oregon). During May, soil and air temperatures are finally warm enough for most vegetable plants, and the danger of a cold snap has passed (hopefully!). Soil temperatures also are warm enough to germinate bean, cucumber, squash and corn seeds.  We usually wait May 15 to June 1st to transplant heat loving peppers, eggplants or basil starts – or give them protection of a cloche or mini greenhouse until outside temperatures get warmer. They are generally a little less hardy than tomatoes.

This Saturday May 15th is Growing Gardens’ annual Plant Distribution Day. Over 2500 plant starts grown by farmers and volunteers will be given out to over 200 limited income families enrolled in GG’s Home Garden Program! Extra starts will be delivered to our Youth Grow program sites for Youth Grow students to take home and plant in their school gardens.

Here are some easy steps to transplanting vegetable starts:

  • Water your plants well before transplanting.
  • Dig a hole in the soil slightly larger than the container the plant is in.
  • Carefully remove the entire plant (including the roots and soil) out of the pot.
  • Gently place the clump, roots down, into the hole.
  • Fill the remaining space in the hole with soil and gently pat down.
  • After transplanting, water the soil around the plant, but avoid getting water on the leaves of the plant.

Tips for Transplanting Tomatoes:

1. Bury the tomato stem down to the first healthy-looking leaves, so that the leaves are just barely above ground. The fuzz on the stems of tomato plants will turn into roots when underground! The deeper the stem is buried, the deeper the roots will be!

2. Put a tomato cage or trellis around the plant right after   planting—it is hard to get cages over plants once they have grown big.

3. One common tomato disease includes blossom end rot. Enough calcium and consistent moisture will  prevent this disease from occurring. Check out this Cornell blossom end rot fact sheet for more information.



  1. This is the first year I have grown tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs from seed, and I am actually pretty excited as tomorrow they go into the ground. I have been growing tomatoes all my life and had no idea that those little hairs turned into roots. Thanks so much for the info!

    Where I live, in Ridgefield I am only about 20 minutes from the I-5 bridge, but we had frost a few mornings ago! Needless to say, my little seedlings were safe on my window sill.

  2. Its like you read my mind! You seem to grasp a lot about this, such as you wrote the guide in it or something. I believe that you just could do with some p.c. to drive the message home a bit, however other than that, this is great blog. A great read. I’ll certainly be back.

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