Saturday, May 24, 2008


Well, as they say, when you don’t have anything else to talk about, you can always talk about the weather. The weather has been foremost in our minds as we try to keep the cold and windy weather of late from damaging the plants. It has also been topic of conversation among our customers as you wonder whether to plant now or wait til it warms up, whenever that will be. April was the coldest April in 11 years and I imagine May will break some sort of record as well. The average last frost date for our area is May 15, but frosts have been recorded as late as the first week of June! So, you have been warned.
Last week we had a frost at Countryside that nipped several varieties of annuals that had been outside, as well as some of the veggies Richard had planted in the garden out back.
Vegetables– Lettuces, the brassicas (broccoli, cabbages, brussels sprouts, etc.) do well in cooler weather, tho the broccoli that Richard planted got nipped in last week’s frost and the young primary heads had to be removed. Heads will form on the sideshoots, so the crop won’t be a total loss. The beets also got hit and the leaf edges turned brown. Sometimes the veins of tomato leaves will turn purple due to colder temperatures. The plants will eventually grow out of it once the weather warms.
It is still too early to plant the warm season crops, such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and the squashes and melons. Until the soil warms up you should really hold off on planting these crops in the ground. Even if you don’t get the plants in the ground until mid-June, you should not notice a decline in production. Once the nights warm up the plants will catch up.

If you want to get some ideas for planting your garden, check out the demo gardens located around the sales lot. The Vegetable demo garden is in Greenhouse 7. There are demo gardens for perennials, annuals and the "Stepables" (ground cover plants that can take foot traffic.)

Annual Bedding Plants– Pansies and snapdragons thrive in the cooler weather but hold off on planting impatiens and flowering vinca. Planting them when the soil is still cold will really set them back. You can actually see their little leaves curl up to protect them from the cold. The wind really does a number on hanging baskets. Set them on the ground or put them in the garage to protect them.
Perennials– Although perennials can be planted now (ours have been out on the display tables for several weeks with no ill effects from the cold) you may have noticed your perennial plants have been slow to come out of dormancy due to the cold soil temperatures. I imagine butterfly bush, caryopteris and hardy hibiscus will be really delayed this year, so resist the temptation assume they have died and pull them out. I never see much action out of my butterfly bush until June.

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