Patience pays off later with garden plantings

Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 04/21, 2015 at 01:38 PM

Patience pays off later with garden plantings

There still may be frosty mornings in our future...

Every year around this time, I hear something that as a fairly experienced gardener, it makes me shake my head…“it was so nice this weekend I planted my entire garden!” Yes, when it was as warm as it was last Saturday, you can certainly be tempted to plant cold-sensitive plants and seeds outside. But, it’s just not a good idea. Here’s why:

- You live in Central Pennsylvania, not central Carolina: Weather here is highly changeable this time of year, and we do not follow a linear increase in daily temperatures in spring. So, while it was near 80 Saturday, guess what? The temperature Thursday and Friday probably will stay in the 40s, and drop around freezing at night. Not good for any tomatoes caught out in that environment.

- Our average last frost date is not here yet for many of us: The National Weather Service has this handy map of average last frost dates so you can see at a glance when that is. As you can see, south of State College average last frost date is April 21, in State College it’s May 1, but north and west of State College, it’s not until May 11. Keep in mind, that’s AVERAGE last frost date. We can get frosts around here well into May.

- The soil is too cold: Many frost-sensitive plants like peppers, eggplants, basil, etc. are actually tropical and do much better in warm soil. Often, being in cold soil now will actually hurt their production later. Plus, many seeds for things like pumpkins, beans, and cucumbers won’t sprout in cold soil and will rot in the ground.

- Covering your plants is extra work: If you plant now, you’re likely looking at at least several evenings of having to cover your plants.

Now, keep in mind this is just for cold-sensitive plants. Your frost hardy plants should be okay!

Tags: gardening |

{name} Author: Jamie Oberdick

Bio: Editor, Local Food Journey | Passionate about supporting local food in Central PA

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