By Carol O’Meara, Colorado State University Extension

Have you been bitten by the gardening bug and are now itching to plant? The cool, wet weather we’ve been enjoying has had gardeners impatiently waiting for the soil to warm and the skies to stop peppering us with hail so our plants can finally go outside.

Now that the National Weather Service is saying we’re in for warming up and drying out, be patient for a few more days to let the soil temperatures rise. Wet soil warms more slowly, because the sun’s energy goes into drying it out; once that’s accomplished the ground will be ideal for us to pop peppers, eggplant and tomato seedlings in.

Soil temperatures play a big role in when to plant our garden vegetables. For the peppers, tomatoes and eggplant, warmth needs to be 60 degrees or more, with the ideal being above 65 degrees. Planted too soon, the seedlings will sit and snit, refusing to grow until temperatures are more to their liking.

Planting seeds in cool soil is tricky as well because many won’t germinate and instead rot. Beans, pumpkins, and squash should not go in until the soil is above 60 degrees. The warming soil should happen fairly soon, since the ground has a chance to dry out in the next few days.

What haven’t had a problem with the weather are weeds, which with all the moisture, sprouted with abandon. They’re growing with vigor, and if not brought under control, they’ll crowd out your beds and be difficult to remove.

Take this time to focus your energy on pulling weeds from the rain-softened soil. They’ll come out fairly easily and you’ll feel the sense of satisfaction from clearing the weeds out. If you’re especially frustrated by not planting, whack the weeds with your hoe a bit to wrench them from the ground.

Most of these early-season weeds are good fodder for the compost pile since they haven’t had tome to produce seed heads. Those which have can still be composted; just snip off the seeds before tossing the plant on the pile.

Check out Grow & Give, growgive.extension.colostate.edu, our all-new website devoted to helping you grow fruits and vegetables in your garden. You’ll find information and instructional videos for planting your vegetable garden added weekly.

If you’d like to learn to garden, sign up to take our free Vegetable Gardening class via CSU-Online. This course, one of the 6-hour-long basics of the Colorado Master Gardener program, is normally $40; but to support the growing of modern Victory Gardens, is being offered for free if you register between June 1 and June 14. Gardeners have access to it for up to six months following registration. Our Grow & Give website link for the course goes live on June 1.

As you grow, Master Gardeners are here to answer your questions virtually, via our e-mail Help Desk by e-mailing questions and photos to mggpa@bouldercounty.org.

By Carol A. O’Meara. Carol is an Extension Agent – Horticulture Entomology at Colorado State University Extension Boulder County. For more information contact CSU Extension at the Boulder County Fairgrounds,
9595 Nelson Road, Box B, Longmont, 303.678.6377, e-mail comeara@bouldercounty.org or visit ext.colostate.edu/boulder.