There are a couple of good arguments for getting them into the ground. The first is that they have started outgrowing their containers. They either need potting up or planting. If I leave them in their current pots they will be very stressed. If I pot them up they will no longer fit under the lights. As it is they are almost too big.
The second is that I'm leaving town for a week starting Monday. The plants can survive outside without me, but inside they would be under the care of my husband. Last night when I told he he would be taking care of them when I'm gone, he stared at me like I was crazy. And to be perfectly honest, it is a bit crazy. Joel has never taken care of any plant in his life, not even a houseplant. He doesn't grow things. I can explain certain things to him, but it is a big risk giving the care of the poor things to a total neophyte.
The third is that the peppers are on the verge of blossoming. In fact two already have the tiniest buds on them. To get the best yeild out of a pepper plant, they have to be planted before they flower. Picking the buds off doesn't change things. The plant is putting its energy into blossoms not roots. It is too late for some of them, but the others are still bloom free. They need to go in the ground now - well last week really.
The only argument against is that it is way too early. I've never planted out tomatoes and peppers this early. The odds are good that the last frost was April 12th, but it is by no means certain. Even without a frost we could get cold wet weather all May. The tomatoes would really get stressed out with that. The long range forecast says that in the next week we will have one cold day (probably on Sunday), but the lows won't get below 40°F (4°C). Towards the end of next week the weather will start a warming trend (maybe to the 70°Fs) and be wet. I usually don't like planting tomatoes before a long stretch of wet weather because of mildew issues.
Basically I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. Since it looks like it will be cool and wet instead of cold and wet, I planted today. The plants looks so happy out in the ground. I hope they don't hate me in a week.
This morning I put in the Sungold F2 experimental tomatoes in the ground. The six plants were spaced 2' apart. I probably ought to have twice as many for a good experiment, but that is what fits. In front of the bed the chili peppers were put in a foot apart. In back of the tomatoes I put in three Italian basil plants and there are also the three marigolds that were planted yesterday. The only thing missing from this bed right now are the carrots. When I get back I'm going to put a row of carrots down the middle of the bed between the tomatoes and the peppers. After they were all watered in. I put a row cover over the tomatoes and peppers. That should keep any unusual light frosts from killing them.
This afternoon I'll pot up my other tomatoes in the buckets that I prepared yesterday. To protect them I'll place a soda bottle filled with water, sitting right next to each plant. I'll put them by the chimney because those bricks are a great heat sink.
Am I insane for planting so early? Maybe. I'll know when I'm back from my trip.