Cool April Weather – Protecting Your Plants

Here we are, close to May, and a freeze warning has been put into effect for tonight.  The next two nights are going to be cold too.

It is very important that you protect any tender plants that you may have purchased.  Frost blankets, sheets, indoor covers, towels – whatever you use, you need to create protection from the possible temperatures of the high twenties to freezing.  Cover your annuals well, especially impatiens, sweet potato vine, begonias, and coleus.  If possible, bring your containers into a garage or into the house.  Vegetables need to be covered and protected as well.

Luckily, the cold front is only going to be upon us for about the next 2 or 3 nights.  Keep an eye on www.accuweather.com for the latest updates.

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Warm Season Vegetables

While I know that the spring vegetable planting season is quickly coming upon us, please keep in mind that there are some vegetables that need warm days, nights, and soil to thrive.  I wrote previously about great vegetable selections for cooler temperatures, Planting Cool Season Crops, but now the mind starts drifting to tomatoes and peppers – plus many more garden staples like cucumbers, zucchini, etc.

Small vegetable plants are available to buy right now.  The key to success though is to buy them now – if you just can not wait, but let them mature a bit in their pots, (or transplant them into a bit of a bigger pot).  Harden the plants off – which means gradually allowing them to become acclimated to cooler temperatures – by placing the pots in a sunny location outside during the day, and bringing them in at night when the temperatures dip below 55 degrees fahrenheit.

Vegetables actually suffer stress when they are first planted out into the garden.  It is best to wait for about 2 weeks yet to put them into the ground, (today is April 26th).  I have found in past years that even though I planted some veggies early in the season, the ones that were planted later quickly caught up to my original ones anyway.

If you have questions about success in your vegetable gardening endeavors, or have a small space in which to grow vegetables, come to Waterloo Gardens this Saturday, April 28th in Exton at 1 PM or Sunday, April 29th in Devon at 1 PM to attend an informative talk being given by our very knowledgable Bob Keiter.  He will walk you through the ins-and-outs for success.  Questions are definitely welcome.

As we progress through the season, I will let you know the methods that I will use when I plant, and tell you about my experience with my own garden.

Wind, Water, and Sun

The past few days have been so windy, even though the temperatures have been on the cool side, it still takes a toll on your plants.   Well, I made the mistake of forgetting to water.  I thought about the cool temperatures and forgot how drying the gusts of wind can be.  Luckily, I caught my mistake in time – even though my plants were pretty unhappy with me.  Because I had let them dry out, a thorough soaking was in order.

When plants get extremely dry, a regular watering is not sufficient.  I had to soak my plants three times to make sure that the water didn’t just run off the ground or quickly pass through my planters and hanging baskets.  It is really important to thoroughly wet the soil in order to provide enough moisture.

Now, the weather forecast is calling for the next 4 days to be in the upper 70’s and even hit 80 degrees – with no rain in sight.  Please remember your plants.  Check them for water daily, especially newly planted seeds and plants.

Time for Easter!

What a beautiful morning!  I am looking forward to a day outside with the high temperature at 60 degrees.  At this time of year, I prefer to garden when it is a little cooler.  I am just not ready yet for the 70’s.  Well, I do like the temperatures in the 70’s but when I want to read outside or relax, not garden.  That’s just me.  (Today’s projects are to edge my garden beds and mow my grass for the first time.)

I am so delighted by Easter flowers.  Tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, Easter lilies…all of them!  Their colors are so vibrant!  I know that some people don’t care for the sweet aroma of hyacinth but to me it is heavenly.

When I talk to people about the flowers that they want to either buy for themselves or give them to someone, the most popular question is “how long will they last”.  If they are kept outside to decorate a porch or patio, they will last for weeks.  They do best in cooler temperatures and can take the cool April nights.  Tulips are the biggest concern because during the day they open up and look as if they are bloomed-out.  This is what tulips do.  While the sun is out they will open their flowers and then in the evening and nighttime they close back up again – so don’t be concerned about a tulip with open blossoms.  They are just showing off.  I have a few little tables and plant stands on my porch where I like to show off my bulb plants.  I slip them into a decorative pot – not just because it looks nicer but it also keeps them from blowing over in the wind.

One word of caution about Easter lilies – they are poisonous to cats so choose wisely when  making a selection for either yourself or someone else.

If you want to keep your flowers inside, bulb plants will give at least two weeks of color. There is always the choice of buying a cheerful basket of seasonal color for the house too. Inside, a mixtures of daisies, geraniums, calla lilies, begonias, etc. are perfectly happy and will thrive.