Spring Planting – 2010/04/26

Spring has definitely sprung. Most plants are poking out of the ground, including some who don’t usually show their faces until June. Everyone I’ve spoken with has commented that they can’t remember such an early Spring. If you’re like a lot of gardeners, you’ve been out looking for signs of life in your gardens, and wondering why you don’t see yours balloon flowers or butterfly bush yet. Remember, it’s still very early.

With this beautiful weather we’ve had, most things are about a month ahead of schedule, and that includes the gardeners. People are anxious to get planting. I know this because I’ve seen you shopping for plants already. I’ve opened up a week early this year because of the weather. But, and there’s always a but, with this unseasonable weather comes the urge to plant flowers that you really should hold off on.

It’s a vicious cycle when it comes to plants in the Spring. Growers bring plants on sooner and sooner because the retail outlets demand it. Retail centres demand the plants earlier because their customers want them. Customers want plants sooner because they are afraid that their favourite plant may not be available because the growers are bringing them on sooner.

Even Mother Nature has jumped on the band wagon this year. But, while she might initially enjoy the driving march that the band is playing, she may decide that she wants a nice slow jazz instead. And why not? It’s her prerogative to change her mind. So she jumps off with a thud and we get a late hard frost that lays our work and hard-earned money to waste. I may be being overly cautious, but I worry about these things. It must be that bit of Irish in me. Expect the worse and try to plan for it. Thanks Mom.

There are plenty of annuals that I consider safe for this time of year. Pansies are an obvious choice, but there’s also Ranunculus, Dianthus, Wall Flowers, and Snapdragons, as well as a few others.

Perennials, trees and shrubs are generally safe, but (see…that word keeps popping up) you still have to be somewhat careful. Many plants available for sale come from the Niagara area which is considerably further ahead than us, or they’ve been grown in a heated greenhouse. I’m not saying you need to hold off on these, just exercise some caution. These plants will almost always recover from a late frost, but they may become unsightly or you may lose the glorious flowers on them. You can usually ask where you buy your plants if something needs a bit of protection yet. Keep an eye on the weather. I check the weather for Uxbridge online, two or three times a day. I also subtract 2 degrees for the overnight low, so if it says 4 degrees and clear, I assume 2 degrees with a chance of frost. Remember that if you get your weather from TV or the radio, it’s usually for Toronto and you can count on our overnight temperatues to be lower. Perennials and shrubs can be covered for the night. A garbage bag is convenient for covering a shrub loaded with flower buds.

I know that you won’t all head my advice, but if you decide to plant a little early and take your chances with the weather, do one thing for me. Please don’t plant your tomatoes in the ground until the first or second week of June. You’ll actually get a better crop if you wait for the ground to be warm than if you try to get a headstart a couple of weeks earlier.

Relax, enjoy this wonderful weather, and appreciate what your garden brings at this time of year. For my part I’ll eat a potato to appease my Irish side and return next week more optimistic.

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About johnsgarden

I have a garden centre which operates out of my home in Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada I write columns for a local paper, which I will include here
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