Saturday, May 03, 2008

Can't wait to plant?

This past week here in Ontario we experienced a bit of a cold snap so it really wasn’t ideal for any type of outdoor gardening. The past few days have hinted at warmer weather and we’re getting oodles of showers so things have really started taking off. Me, I’ve been tending to my seedlings and now that the weather is turning favourable again I’m getting ready to plant a few things outdoors. Although the veggies I’ll be planting are quite tolerant of cold weather (peas, parsnips, carrots and lettuce) today I want to touch on caring for plants that aren’t so hardy when colder weather strikes unexpectedly.

Even veggies, such as eggplant and tomatoes, need TLC.

For gardeners in Southern climes this isn’t so much of an issue, although it could be with very sensitive plants such as tomatoes or melons, but for us folks farther North we tend to get a little... *ahem*... anxious when there’s even a hint of warm weather and all planting sense goes out the window. “It’s May 3rd and mild,” we cry “surely it’s time to plant everything outdoors!!”

For those of us in zone 5b and surrounding areas the real marker for planting is the second last or last week-end in May, a time when the majority of risk for frost has past. That said, there’s still the possibility of an odd night-time frost and in true Canadian weather form there’s always the risk of unseasonably chilly temps both day and night. Sure, you may have planted your veggies out in the garden but you’ll still need to protect them for a few more weeks until they become hardy and really establish themselves in the garden.

One way to do this is to invest in a Wall-O-Water or construct some type of covering for your plants to protect them at night. A Wall-O-Water is made from plastic and consists of several tubes that you fill with lemonade...kidding, you fill them with water (just checking to see if you’re paying attention). They stand a little over 1 ft tall and when each of the tubes is filled up it closes in around the top of your plant. This traps in the heat and protects the plant from cold air and wind. They’re handy and re-useable from year to year.

A Wall-O-Water.
Re-useable and great for folks that are just itching to plant
something outdoors when it's still to early to do so. ;)

Since Wall-O-Water aren’t exactly cheap and easy to come by you can also use a large plastic pop-bottle, milk jugs with the bottoms cut off or even cardboard milk cartons, all of which would be placed over the plant and pushed into the earth slightly to stabilize them. It’s the frugal gardener’s way of doing things and a great way to recycle. :)

In this gardening post I’ve kind of gotten ahead of myself and so next week I’m going to talk about the steps you’d take before planting outdoors to prep your plants for the potential "big chill". So until next week have fun art-ing and playing in the dirt (but not at the same time unless you’re into that sort of thing).


Lisa B. said...

We've had high 70-low 80's daytime temperatures this last week, but it's still chilly in the early morning hours.

It gets so ridiculously hot here in the summer, I worry more about veggie sunstroke than frostbite. Late August produces fried green tomatoes, fresh off the vine!

Rita said...

Sounds like the same kind of days we're having here: warm during the day and then a slap in the face at night.

Hey, at least with the fried green tomatoes right off the vine it's saving you some time in the kitchen, right? ;)