- Get ready to transplant cool season crops (onions, leeks, spinach, etc.) into your garden by hardening them off and moving them outside once daytime temperatures are reliably above 45 degrees F.
- Start your warm season crops (tomatoes, peppers, and cucurbits) indoors for transplanting in mid-June, once the threat of frost has passed.
- Build raised beds to reduce the amount of bending you need to do to maintain your garden.
- Plan for a healthy gardening season by making sure your tools are clean, sharp, and designed for a full season of comfortable use. Consider a 3- or 4-wheeled wheelbarrow to make hauling materials easier on your back. Be sure you have well-fitting gloves, sunscreen, and insect repellant that hasn’t expired, and a sun hat that keeps your face and neck in the shade.
- Finish up your spring pruning.
Best plants for our area are large variety of perennials such as creeping phlox, dianthus, creeping thyme, stonecrop, and violets, which make excellent ground covers.
For all season long color, interplant hardy perennials like:
- Bee balm
- Russian sage
- Butterfly weed
For Shady Gardens, try hosta coral bells, ferns, bleeding heart, Jacob’s Ladder, hellebore, foxglove, monkshood, spiderwort
Vegetables and herbs that should be planted from April to May include: Celery Chives Okra Onions Parsnips Those that should be planted from May to June include: bush and pole beans sweet corn, late cabbage, cucumber, eggplant, endive, leeks, peppers, pumpkin, rutabaga summer and winter squash, tomatoes.
WHAT IS FROST
Frost is simply frozen condensation. It occurs at temperatures below freezing, i.e. 32F and 0C.
HOW DO YOU PROTECT PLANTS FROM FROST?
Essentially, you just need to cover your plant with some kind of material to trap warm air around your plants so that temperatures stay a few degrees above those outside the cover. You can throw almost anything over your plants as long as it doesn’t squish them and you take it off in the morning.
CONSIDER PLANTING FROST RESISTANT PLANTS
Not all plants are as susceptible to damage from frost. Some plants can protect themselves from a light frost by increasing the sugar content within their cells.
The increased sugar lowers the freezing point of the water in the cells just enough to protect the cell walls from damage, and these plants will actually taste better if they are grown through a frost!
WAYS TO PROTECT PLANTS FROM FREEZING TEMPERATURES
If your first frost is a few weeks away, then you still have time to build a low tunnel or cold frame. However, sometimes frost warnings pop up unexpectedly and you might not be ready with a low tunnel or cold frame.
A LOW TUNNEL
A low tunnel is a short greenhouse tunnel placed over your plants. They are usually only 2-4 feet tall. You create a low tunnel by placing hoops every few feet and covering the entire bed or row with plastic or agricultural fabric.
The covering works by trapping warm air under the tunnel to raise the temperature a few degrees which protects your plants from frost overnight.
During periods of warm days and cool nights, you may need to open the ends of the low tunnel during the day to let out some heat. This is especially true if you decide to go with plastic sheeting.
Low tunnels are one of the best ways to grow more food during colder months. They can be customized to fit the length and width of your garden bed and are easily stored when not in use.
BUILD A COLD FRAME
A cold frame is basically a small greenhouse that can be placed over your a garden bed. Cold frames can be built with scrap lumber and old windows.
However, it doesn’t need to be that complicated. It can be as simple as setting some hay bales around your plants and placing a window on top.
A cold frame provides excellent insulation and protection from wind and cold weather. However, while there are many uses for cold frames, this type of frost protection does limit your growing space. And, depending on the construction, the walls can block some of the light that your plants receive.
For these reasons, a cold frame is most appropriately used for small garden beds.
USE A PLANT CLOCHE
A cloche is a tiny greenhouse you place over individual plants. This is a great option if you have just a few seedlings or small plants in the garden that need protection.
They are usually made of plastic or glass and may be rigid or flexible.
All cloches should have some venting so that they don’t cook the plants the next day. Otherwise, make sure you’re out there as early as possible to remove the cloche before the sun comes up.
DIDN’T PLAN AHEAD? YOU HAVE SEVERAL QUICK OPTIONS TO PROTECT YOUR PLANTS.
Basically, you can cover them with anything you have on hand. For individual plants, grab a bucket, flowerpot, or even a cardboard box to put over them for the night.
If your plants are sturdy, you can lay garden fleece, burlap sack, blanket, tarp, or sheet right on top of the garden bed.
If your plants are small and fragile enough that laying a blanket right on top of them could break the stems, then use stakes or blocks to provide some support underneath your cover.
Remember to pull the cover off in the morning or you might smother your plants.
DON’T HAVE A COVER? LEAVE A SPRINKLER RUNNING OVERNIGHT
Keeping your plants wet can actually protect them from freezing. Be sure to read this first before trying a sprinkler.
Garden Center Products
5 Easy Ways to Find the Absolute Best Tree on the Lot
- Know your measurements! The most important thing is to measure the tree to make sure it will fit the space in your home. Measure your room and bring your measuring tape with you so you don’t pick a tree that’s too big!
- Test for freshness: Take a branch in your hand and gently pull along the branch. If the tree is fresh, it should retain its needles.
- Then test for freshness another way: Another test is to tap the base on the ground and see if needles shake off the tree. If only a few fall off the tree, it is fresh.
- Check the needles: You should also check the pliability of the needles. A fresh tree’s needle should be pliable and not break in half in your hand.
- If you’re seeing spots, keep looking: If the tree has a musty smell or brown spots, the tree is sick or was cut a long time ago, so move on to the next one.
Balsam vs Fraser
The Fraser fir and Balsam fir are closely related and share many characteristics. Both trees make excellent Christmas trees for their needle retention, deep green color, ideal shape, and pleasing scent. However, depending on your preferences, there are subtle differences which might make your buying decision easier!
September is a wonderful gardening month. The last of the summer vegetables are ripe and ready for eating or preserving, apples are at their peak in many places, and it time to clean up and prepare for next spring. The days are bright and mornings can be crisp. In more moderate climates, summer stretches yet a bit longer but autumn is in the air.
Once plants have started to peter out, it’s time to pull spent annuals and vegetables. If you’ve had no significant plant problems like bugs or fungus, add them to the compost pile. If you have had problems, don’t compost. Burn if you can, otherwise trash them.
Cut out dead shoots on roses. Destroy leaves with evidence of mildew or blackspot to diminish the probability of a recurrence in the spring. And stop feeding your roses. They need to prepare to go dormant.
Plant Spring Bulbs, Peonies, & Iris
September and October are the best months for planting spring bulbs. Decide where your bulb beds will be, then build them up with fresh compost. Beds should be deeply dug and well drained.
- Early planting in September is important for anemones, snowdrops, and winter aconite.
- Make sure tulips and daffodils go in the ground six weeks before freezing weather sets in.
- Plant lilies as soon as you get them.
- Peonies and iris can be planted from August through September. Anticipate a great show in May and June next year.
Also, now is a good time to prepare bulbs for indoor forcing. Fill clean, dry pots with fresh soil. You can leave them outside in a protected area and cover them with straw or leaves. In a month or so, after root development has had a chance to occur, you can store them in a basement or garage and gradually expose them to light and heat. They should begin to show signs of life in December.
Begonias will live happily inside throughout the winter. Next spring, you can create many new plants.
Plan for Next Year’s Vegetables
Prepare for next year’s perennial vegetables now.
- Mulch rhubarb.
- Cut off old asparagus tops.
- Set up cold frames to prepare for early spring vegetables.
Annual veggies need attention now too. Where an early frost is typical, pull up tomato vines and hang indoors. The sap will be sufficient to ripen fruits. Half ripe tomatoes will ripen indoors on the counter. Green tomatoes can be turned into jam or chutney. Harvest onions before they resprout. Squash should be picked before frost. Root vegetables like beets and carrots, pulled before the first heavy frost, will do well stored in sand in the garage or basement.
Plant Trees, Shrubs & Early Spring Perennials
September is prime time for transplanting both large and small perennials. Shrubs like pussy willow, forsythia, and lilac as well as many evergreens do well being planted before winter weather arrives. Make sure evergreens are well watered so they don’t suffer from dry cold, which will kill them. Divide and transplant early blooming perennial flowers like poppies and bleeding hearts. Large clumps can be split now too. Find a friend or neighbor to trade with and add a few new varieties.
Prepare clean pots and fill with fresh soil, then transplant tender perennials like lemon verbena, geranium, and bay laurel so they can be overwintered in the house or on a sun porch. If weather isn’t freezing they can go outside on milder days.