Stop — try to resist the urge to plant your entire garden.
But the weather is nice, I know, I know. However, we still haven’t made it past our average annual last frost date. This usually occurs around May 10 in our area.
Most of the plants that we plant into our gardens and use to add a pop of color here and there are known as annuals. Many of these annuals are not well suited for colder temperatures, which is what we are experiencing still here and there.
If you plant a warm loving annual such as a petunia or tomato now, you will be risking that plant being damaged or possibly dying if it gets too cold. If for some reason you still feel the need to place these plants outside, perhaps plant them in pots. That way, if it gets cold, you will be able to easily move them indoors. If your plants do get hit by frost, you can do your best to rinse it off with a fine stream of water if you can get to them before the sun begins to shine on them.
If you can’t get to them in time, and they do survive the frost, you can try to remove the damaged leaves — if you remember to leave at least a third still intact. That way your plants will still be able to try to photosynthesize. Once they grow larger and fill in with new leaves, you can then remove any other damaged ones that you missed the first time around.
There are some plants that you can start growing now that are cool season crops. Those include kale, spinach, peas, onions, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, kohlrabi, beets, Brussels sprouts, radish and collards. These plants can handle colder temperatures and do well in cool spring weather. Most of these types have issues and start pretty much protesting on you when the weather gets too warm.
Most of these plant types are best direct seeded right into the ground as opposed to planting from transplant. Lettuces, chard and leafy crops would be the exception to that rule, but don’t try that with beets, carrots or any other root crops.
Soon enough it will be time for the rest of our garden to go in — and for the task of weed pulling to get started as well. Weed pulling season is something I try to try to avoid if possible. I try to hold out until the weekend after Mother’s Day, since occasionally we do end up with a touch of frost after.
You are more than welcome to start shopping for your plants now, though, if you feel your favorite shop may sell out before we reach planting time. Just be sure to take proper care of them until it is time for them to stay outside for good.
Give it a few weeks and gardening season will be in full swing.
Sacha Burns is an organic gardener and owner of Sunkissed Organics in Pinola. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.