Don’t Get Caught with Your Plants Down!
Warm weather one day, cold the next! It has certainly been a roller coaster ride for gardeners this spring.
Dates you should know: May 15th is considered the safe planting date for most Long Island gardeners. That does not mean frost cannot happen. It has happened in prior years. It’s up to you to listen to the weather forecast and act accordingly. And do not confuse the safe planting date with the last frost date. The average last frost is considered April 20th. It’s not a hard fast date but an average date.
Cool season veggies and annuals can tolerate lower night temperatures. Peas, onions, lettuce, snapdragons, and pansies can survive overnight temperatures in the low 40’s. Warm season annuals and veggies – petunias, new Guinea Impatiens, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers – can be damaged, stunted, or killed by those same temperatures.
You can buy your warm season transplants now. Just remember, if the overnight temperatures are going to dip, you must protect your purchases. Tuck them into a garage or cover them with a blanket or tarp to keep the chilly night air away. Move back outside or uncover once it has warmed up the next day.
Did you grow your own veggies and annuals from seed this year? Good gardeners know about ‘hardening off’ transplants. Tender transplants need to toughen up a bit before they are planted in the garden. So, if you are waiting for May 15th, do the following. Each day, move transplants outside and extend the time outside each day. Remember to bring them in to safe shelter each night before evening temperatures get too cool. Over a period of a week or two, your plants will be acclimated and ready to plant in the garden when the ‘safe planting’ date arrives.