Ask the gardening expert

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My family just moved to this home this year. It has all kinds of plants and trees that I remember seeing since I grew up on a farm in this county. I have been away for a while. I won’t know where to start. Is it a good idea to plant a tomatoes and corn garden in April? It seems like my family waited until summer to grow, but my husband wants to get an early start.

On of the first part of your question, I will tell you to come into the WSU Master Gardeners office at the WSU Clark County Extension, 11104 N.E. 149th St. in Brush Prairie, and visit with the volunteers on duty. Call 360-397-6060 first to check office hours or make an appointment.

Be armed with good photos of the trees and shrubs (after they grow leaves). The master gardeners will be happy to help with identification of your plants, answer all your questions, help you do research on the Web site, and guide you in the right direction in order for you to escape some difficulties later on.

Or you could send photos and query the Master Gardeners by e-mail at MGanswerclinic@clark.wa.gov.

As for when to put in a vegetable garden, there is no point in planting corn, tomatoes, squash, melons and other warm-weather crops until later. It’s not warm enough in early April in this area.

I realize that many people are going to contact me and tell me how they were able to get the soil warm enough to plant early and pick a ripe tomato in June. I’m not too excited about all the extra work and fuss needed in order to achieve this success. I think I am the average gardener who is leading a busy life and can’t be fussing with contraptions and strategies in hopes of being first.

Gardeners are wise to wait until the soil is at least 55 degrees, and the nights are consistently 50 degrees. That is usually late May, or in my case, around the second week of June.

Celeste Lindsay is a WSU Master Gardener. Send questions to lindsay8@pacifier.com.