Asked April 9, 2019, 11:06 PM EDT

For the rest of this month temperatures at night will fall down to 43-49. Days will get up to 63-74. I am in southern Maryland. I am really getting anxious to plant my tomatoes and peppers. They are starter seeds I grew inside and have been taking them out during the day to get sun. If no sun they stay inside. They perk up every time I take them outside for sun. Question, can I plant them outside now or do I really need to wait till the temperatures hit 50 at night and 75 during the day. That will happen the middle of May. Second question. I plan on using bone meal, aspirin, earthworm castings, fish meal, egg shells, Epson salt and Espoma T08 tomatoe tone together as a mix I plan on putting under the roots of the tomatoes. I will substitute tomato tone for Espoma garden tone for my peppers. Is this too much stuff to be putting below the tomato and pepper plants. When the roots hit this mix will it burn/destroy them. I read on line this mix was supposed to be the best thing ever. I read the aspirin triggers the plants defense mechanisms which help stop diseases before they actually happen, like blight.

St. Mary's County Maryland

1 Response

Hi- if your tomato and pepper plants are not stressed or crowded in their containers it would be better to wait a bit longer. Warmer soil temperatures will get plants established more quickly and face lower risk of frost injury. Also, tomato plants exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees F. are more likely to produce early fruits with catfacing (deformed). Check out this page with frost-free day info and click on the app and enter your zip code. For Leonardtown zip code the data show there is a 50% chance of hitting 32 degrees on April 11th and only a 10% chance on April 25th. Of course, paying close attention to the extended forecast will help inform your decision and you can always go out and cover plants with paper bags, baskets, tarps, or blankets.
Spring Frost/Freeze Dates in MD:


Regarding fertilizers- salicylic acid has been shown to boost plant defenses in controlled studies. Not sure if your plants will benefit from the aspirin mixed in with planting soil. Slow down foliar disease progression by pruning off lower tomato plant branches when fruits start to form.

The best way to prevent blossom-end rot is with a small handful (1/4-1/2 cup) of gypsum mixed in with planting soil. It contains calcium and sulfur and will not affect soil pH. Egg shells are fine to add to compost piles or soil but are not a quick source of calcium. Epsom salts are only recommended if you knew (based on a soil test) that your soil was low in magnesium.

Bone meal is a very slowly available phosphorous source and not necessary unless phosphorous levels are low, in which case we would recommend a faster acting source like super phosphate (treated rock phosphate).

Mixing worm castings and fish meal in the planting soil is fine. If your have been adding organic matter to the soil you probably won't need the additional fertilizers. See how the plants grow and if you feel it's necessary you can sidedress your plants once fruits start to form (sprinkle on soil around or alongside plants and gently work into the top inch of soil).