Transplant in the Rain?

cheri_in_maine(z5ME)May 6, 2009

I would like to plant my tomatoes out but the weather is calling for rain for the next 5 days Should I wait to plant out? I'm getting antsy.

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anney(Georgia 8)


No, you don't have to wait IF your plants are hardened off. Make sure you've done that first.

In fact, if they are hardened off, they might do quite well if planted out right before rainy weather. Overcast skies and a good dousing of water help plants get adjusted in the soil.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 7:18AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Cheri, I have a slightly different take on this than does anney.

First, in your zone 5 in ME I think it's way too early to transplant outside. Your last average frost date isn't until about May 15th and I wouldn't put them outside until after that, nearer the 1 st of June, after they're hardened off, unless you're prepared to protect what you put out against frosts and possible freezes.

Secondly, I would never transplant into wet soil, and we here in the NE are now getting our share of rain, thank heavens b'c there's been a no burn alert for several weeks now, b/s wet soil is compacted and thus has little oxygen in it and that's not good for the plants at all.

Wait until the soil dries out, then grab a fistful and if compacts nicely in your hand and falls apart just a bit, that's OK to go ahead.

Coming from a farming background, as I do, we never, but never, would set out transplants when the soil was waterlogged.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 7:37AM
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Yea...what anney said. If they have already been hardened off for a bit and outside temps won't drop below 50 at night, then definitely don't worry about the rain. =) We're smack dab in the middle of 10 days straight of rain (6 days so far) with only a few peeks of sun yesterday for an hour or two. I transplanted all of my tomatoes this past weekend, into their final homes a day or so after the rain started. They are doing awesome & have grown a few inches since then. The Cherry's are an inch or so above the top of the baskets now (see first post on blog).

Peace - Steve

Steve's Garden

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 11:14AM
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corin99(7b Triangle NC)

It depends on your soil type and the amount of rain. So if you have light, fast draining soil in a raised bed and it's going to be five days of light showers, that's actually pretty good for them. But heavy soil and heavy rain would be a problem.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 12:03PM
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jessicavanderhoff(7 Md)

If it's going to rain a lot and the seedlings are small, the rain could destroy them. I have lost tiny seedlings because they got washed away in the rain. Also agree that's it's way too early to plant out in zone 5-- I'm in zone 7, and it's borderline too early to plant out here.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 12:20PM
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I am going to transplant some more out today or tomorrow, we have a light soft rain right now. Expecting 1/2" between now and Fri (3 days). My ground is good loam and drains rather well, but not great. I'm transplanting large plants, approx. 6-8" tall, above the dirt in the pot. I am also in zone 5 and planted some plants out on Apr 27. My frost date is about 4/15. We have had in the past a frost on Mother's day, 5/10, but that is unusual. I don't plant everything, just about 1/2, then I have "back up" plants if anything happens.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 1:31PM
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    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 1:51PM
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Thanks for the advice. I'll wait a couple more days - today is raining pretty hard. This weekend I believe they are calling for showers. I am hearing all over the place (radio and nurseries) that we should be planting out earlier this year due to a very early last frost and full moon. Better safe than sorry, I'll give it a few more days.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 6:32AM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

I agree about not working wet soil, it ruins the soil texture and turns it into concrete. I use tunnels on the planting site for several weeks in advance to dry the soil underneath, and protect the seedlings after planting out. Here are some planted out in early April, taken April 27.

Sorry, I told Photobucket to rotate the photo but they didn't.:-(


    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 11:29PM
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Well, I think everyone is a little bit correct here. I have to agree with Carolyn that overly wet soil conditions are a concern for the oxygen reason. But sometimes you have bigger fish to fry and need to get them planted up, as was the case with my seedlings this year. I do check them out a couple times daily in all this rain, and the raised bed soil, as some have observed, is draining more nicely than a regular row garden. Planting in the ground would definitely be more risky in the rain, I would think, and compaction could occur which is bad for the roots. Can you wait until the rain passes, or is there an urgency about getting the plants in right now?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 12:05AM
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rj_hythloday(8A VA)

I was lucky, I was able to get mine hardened off and put in the ground a few days earlier than expected when there was major over cast for a days w/ out rain. The 2 weeks since have seen severe rain, but the raised beds are draining very nicely.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 10:17AM
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anney(Georgia 8)

I've always tried to sow seeds or put out transplants on overcast days (or at least in the late afternoon) when it's going to rain to give them time to settle in for their first outdoor water-bath and soil-watering!

Sowing or transplanting right before it rains works great for me. It saves a need to water-in -- but not planting right after or during rain. Messing around with the soil and transplants or seeds in soggy soil is certainly likely to cause compaction and bad aeration, particularly in my clay soil!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 10:42AM
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