Thursday
April
24
2014
10:34 pm
Weather
  Home
  Local News
  State / National / World
  Sports
  Opinion / Letters
  Business
  Arts / Entertainment
  Lifestyle
  Obituaries
  Calendar
  Submit Event
  Comics / Games
  Classifieds
  DJ Designers
  Archives
  Advertise With Us
  About Us
 
 
 
 

Check out our archive of Dining Guides - Yum!

How early is too early to plant?
December 19, 2013, 05:00 AM By Dean Fosdick The Associated

“Plant early and you’ll plant often” is an old saying containing more than a kernel of caution. Timing is everything in gardening.

Start too soon and you’ll lose your crop to lingering spring frosts. Too late and you’ll gamble with winterkill before you can harvest.

So when is the right time to put plants in the ground?

That depends on your location; soil type and temperature; microclimates, and plant selection, said Shawn Olsen, an agriculture professor with Utah State University.

“One of the most underutilized tools in gardening is the soil thermometer,” Olsen said. “Plant your cool weather crops when the soil warms to 35 or 40 degrees. Go with your warm weather crops when it gets up to 55 or 60 degrees.”

Also pay attention to the variability of maturity dates listed on seed packets and plants, he said. “Many radishes, for example, mature in 30 days.”

Microclimates play a large role, Olsen said.

“In this area, it makes a huge difference if you’re planting on the top of a slope, the middle or on the bottom, because cold air tends to go down,” he said.

Anything that is heat-absorbing or gives off infrared radiation at night is useful. That means planting alongside a house, stone walls or outbuildings.

“Generally speaking, the south side of a building is warmer; the north side cooler,” Olsen said. “Learn to take advantage of that.”

Loose, sandy soil with a sunny exposure will dry early, he said, while “wet, packed soil takes longer. Your plants will just sit there.”

Have some season-extending tools available — cold frames, frost blankets, grow lights, high or low tunnels, row covers or a hobby greenhouse, said Lewis Jett, an extension horticulturist with West Virginia University.

“You can get a two-week buffer with planting aids,” he said. “Some give you as many as three to eight weeks.”

Raised beds or anything that warms the soil, like mulch, is going to be helpful, he said. “If a person is trying to be early, having some sort of a mulch down is critical to the crop — especially warm-season crops like melons or tomatoes.”

It also pays to know your USDA plant hardiness zone.

“Look to your state extension service calendars,” Jett said. “They’ll give you the dates of the average early frost and the average late frost. A good time to start planting is right after that spring date.”

Learn to distinguish between cool-season and warm-season plants.

Cabbage, broccoli, onions, peas, radishes, spinach and turnips are typical cool-season crops. These hardy plants will tolerate light frosts, prefer temperatures in the 50- to 60-degree range and lose some of their quality in the heat. They can be planted again in mid- to late summer for a fall harvest.

Tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, eggplant and pumpkins, on the other hand, are tender plants craving warmth, or readings at least 15 degrees higher than the cool season varieties. Start them early in a greenhouse or indoors, transplanting them after nighttime temperatures moderate.

“The easiest way to get things growing is to put them under fluorescent lights in a PVC pipe network covered by greenhouse plastic,” Olsen said. “Sunny windows generally don’t have enough energy to grow plants.”

———

Online:

For more about early-season gardening, see this Cornell University vegetable-growing guide:

http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/homegardening/scene0391.html

You can contact Dean Fosdick at deanfosdick(at)netscape.net

 

 

Tags: plants, season, early, plant, olsen, gardening,


Other stories from today:

Tooth Fairy is walk in park over Elf on the Shelf
This Day in History
Right at Home: Decor with a rustic vibe
 

 
Print this Page Print this Page  |  Bookmark and Share
<< Back
 
Return To Archives
 
  


 
 
 
Daily Journal Quick Poll
 
Do you support a land swap between the city of San Carlos and the elementary school district so the Charter Learning Center could be built on North Crestview?

Yes
No
Not sure

 

 
Tabbed Structure - Regular
 
 
 
 
 
Light showers, possible hail arriving tonight
Bay Area residents should expect rainy weather to arrive tonight and continue through the weekend, b..
Israel halts peace talks with Palestinians
JERUSALEM — Israel broke off Mideast peace talks and brought the U.S.-brokered process to the brin..
Paul McCartney to close Candlestick Park with farewell concert in August
Music legend Paul McCartney will perform the final concert at San Francisco's soon-to-be-demolished ..
FDA proposes first regulations for e-cigarettes
WASHINGTON — The federal government wants to ban sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and requ..
Man, 84, arrested for shooting at Daly City medical facility
Police in Daly City have arrested an 84-year-old man in connection with a shooting at a medical cent..
More >>  
 
 
  
 
  
 
©2014 San Mateo Daily Journal
San Mateo County legal notices