Let’s talk tomatoes and slugs | THE COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER

Every spring many people ask the first two questions about tomatoes and slugs.

Every spring many people ask the first two questions about tomatoes and slugs. The third question, however, is a bit more unusual with a bit of a dark side.

Q. When can I plant tomatoes? Do they grow better in pots or in the ground?  J.T., email

A. Tomatoes are warm season, heat-loving plants which means they suffer if the night time temps are any lower than 45 degrees. This means waiting until June before allowing young tomatoes to suffer outdoors all night in the cold cruel world.

You can cheat and set your plants out in early May if you have a warm and protected area such as up against the sunny side of a building and under the cover of a roof overhang or eaves.

Growing tomatoes in black plastic pots (they absorb heat) gets them off to a better start in our cool summer climate than growing them in the cold ground but by the end of summer the tomato plants placed directly into the soil may produce a larger harvest as their roots will have more room to spread out and grow.

Q. What can I do about all the slugs in my garden? I also have snails and they eat new seedlings right after the sprout. R., email

A. Take a three prong approach to battling slugs and snails and grab a fork while you’re at it; A fork to stab and collect slugs after a rainfall or at night means you can drop them into a bucket of salt or soapy water.

You can also stomp on snails as you lift them from your plants while on nocturnal slug hunts. If you don’t want to go out at night lay a piece of damp cardboard near seedlings and collect the slugs that gather under the cardboard in the morning.

Next, use a pet-safe slug bait such as Worry Free or Sluggo that will cause the slugs to stop eating and slither under a rock to die. You won’t see the slimy mess but you will see the results.

Finally, remove slug and snail habitats if possible. Rock piles and chunks of rotting wood and debris are where slugs and snails like to breed and lay eggs.

Q. I love the dramatic color of black mondo grass and would like to use more of it but it seems to have a high price tag at area nurseries. Is there a way to plant Black mondo grass from seed? D.G., Puyallup

A. Not really. Black mondo grass or Ophiopogon planiscarpus ‘Nigrescens’  is actually a member of the lily family and it grows from bulb- like roots. This lovely, low growing foliage plant keeps its color all year long and is an excellent specimen plant for adding to container gardens or as a dark accent plant in the landscape.

The dirt cheap secret to having more Black Mondo plants is to divide up a mother plants into many off spring in early spring. This is a good week to perform the surgery. Either lift the clump from the ground and pull it apart or use a sharp spade to make new sections.

If you do not divide Black Mondo grass it will grow slowly but once you cut it apart the new clumps fatten up into fine specimens that you can replant in any partly shaded location.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Life

Founder and co-owner of Red Tea Room Donna Wong puts the finishing touch on their most popular dessert— Lemon Meringue Glacée. Photo by Haley Ausbun.
Renton catering company pivots during pandemic

The Red Tea Room Catering’s move to takeout helped keep the company going— and get closer to neighbors

Courtesy of Lindbergh High School.
Congrats to the Class of 2020— virtual ceremony June 15

Students were also celebrated using walk-up ceremonies at Renton High School, Lindbergh High School, Hazen High School and Talley Sr. High School

TLG Motion Pictures CEO Erik Bernard and TLG founder Courtney LeMarco on a set. Photo courtesy TLG Motion Pictures.
Local production company seeking film, TV pitches from young minority creatives

The Big Pitch competition, put on by TLG Motion Pictures (“Hoarders”), started about six months ago.

Photo by Haley Ausbun
                                A woman checks out jars of honey and jam at the Renton Farmers Market in 2018. This year social distancing guidelines are changing the look of the market.
Renton Farmers Market is back June 9

The 19th season of the market will look a little different due to social distancing guidelines

Relay for Life of South King County moves online

American Cancer Society donations to be taken during May 30 virtual gathering

Auburn Symphony Orchestra announces 2020-21 season

Begins with Summer Series scheduled to start June 21

Medic One Foundation’s Gratitude Meals offer support to first responders, local businesses

The initiative provides hearty lunches to first responders staffing the COVID-19 testing sites as they work to test their colleagues.

‘Don’t assume it can’t happen to you’

Federal Way resident Evelyn Allcorn shares story of her husband’s battle with COVID-19 after he tested positive on March 28.

Auburn dance studio finds creative solutions to keep going during COVID-19

Pacific Ballroom Dance moves to online classes; group returned home early from national competition

Photo by Haley Ausbun
                                Boon Boona Coffee in downtown Renton is well-known for its large cafe space, but owner Efrem Fesaha has found a creative way to keep people to to-go orders only, putting a table right at the door. The order from the Governor hasn’t been easy for small businesses in Renton, and many are just taking it day to day and hoping for financial relief from local and regional leaders.
Renton communities reach out during shut-in

Local organizations, volunteers and businesses try to make the best of quarantine

Renton and AARP team up for seniors

New fitness park to funded and will open late in the summer

Schindler’s legacy bounces along at Baden

CEO of Baden Sports died unexpectedly in February