Well it sure has been an ideal Spring for a wonderful year of early planting. or has it? Often we gardeners get so excited about this burst of spring we forget that Mother Nature surprises us with one last frosty slap in the face. Garden centers know about this, however, and even i have been victim once or twice.
What you should understand is that the majority of plants available in our local garden centers are grown within the controlled environments of greenhouses and nurseries. It is quite possible you could have very successful plants, but mother nature has a sense of this and strives to throw a monkey wrench into even the best laid plans.
We have sure had a a warm and dry winter this year and our soil temperatures are higher than normal around this time of year. This means we are more likely to get good germination from direct sowing certain cool weather crops. Most of our favorites, however, will suffer in the colder temperatures. We can start our beets, potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, and radishes now in our gardens and see some success.
This is now the time to start our tomatoes and peppers indoors if you have not already. it is still much too cold to set these plants out, but for those starts gained from the garden centers you could start a hardening off by setting these plants out during the day where our temperatures are averaging around 65-70 lately. Cucumbers could use the same practice, but are much more sensitive to the cold and our vicious valley winds.
One of the tools that I use is a handy garden slide rule called Clyde’s Garden Planner. Seeing that our local average last frost date is march 22 I slide the rule and can see when and how I should plant some of the more common garden crops and even have the depths and distances of planting. I would consider this tool invaluable and recommend you head over there to grab one of your own.
Another invaluable resource is the Sunset book of of Edibles. I am continually referring to this book for information and entertainment.
So please remember that while seeing all the wonderful plants available at the garden centers get our garden juices flowing to use your wisdom and choose that which you are prepared to care for. If you do not have greenhouse, cold frames, or starting areas available, choose that which you can safely plant right in the ground. Our true Spring is just around the corner, and we will enjoy the wonderful successes it brings.
Any questions please feel free to contact me. I am available for garden consultations via web or phone for the entire continental United States, and do Garden Installations and Maintenance services for those within Tracy California.