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Frosty Nights

Jim Boxberger - Correspondent
Posted 4/23/21

What a rollercoaster this spring has been so far. Beautiful days like this past Tuesday followed by sub-freezing temperatures Wednesday night. At least we didn't get any measurable snow. It could …

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Frosty Nights

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What a rollercoaster this spring has been so far. Beautiful days like this past Tuesday followed by sub-freezing temperatures Wednesday night. At least we didn't get any measurable snow. It could still happen so don't count your chickens before they hatch.

We have had tomato and pepper plants available for sale, for at least three weeks now, but that doesn't mean you can plant them in the garden yet. Our last chance for frost usually comes between May fifteen and thirtieth, so planting now would just be foolish unless you had a greenhouse.

Well from what I am finding, more and more people are getting greenhouses so they can control their growing conditions. From simple two by four construction to tubular steel kits many people have been finding ways to make greenhouse structures which will give them the benefit of an earlier and later growing season.

If you go online there are hundreds of videos on Youtube on how to build greenhouses in all shapes and sizes and with many different types of material. I even saw one video where a person put up a greenhouse on his paved driveway and then inside the greenhouse, made his entire garden out of straw bales. Straw bale gardening has been around for a couple of decades but has found new life due to the many videos about the subject on Youtube.

So even if you don't have a large patch of ground in the backyard set aside for a garden, a garden can still be within reach. And with the price of food going up all the time, having a garden now has never been more economical. Just think about how your garden will reduce your carbon footprint.

Not only are you growing plants that help produce oxygen and reduce carbon dioxide, but every time you pick a tomato instead of driving to the store for one, you are helping to reduce CO2 emissions from your car. Having a garden is a win-win for you and the environment.

But, getting back to the weather, don't jump the gun and plant your garden too soon. It is fine to get some plants that you can keep on a table or windowsill if you don't have a greenhouse, but only fools rush in and try to second guess mother nature as to when the last frost will come. I get asked the “when is the last frost going to be” question three or four times a day and if I had the answer to that, I would be a very wealthy man.

Each year is different and even with modern weather predictions, the date of the last frost in a given area can vary by as much as a month. And to make matters even tougher to predict sometimes valleys will get a frost while the hillsides are fine and visa-versa. So just because you didn't get frost one night doesn't mean your neighbor down the road didn't get frost either. If your looking to do a little landscaping right now, the weather is more forgiving.

Generally speaking a frost isn't going to bother new trees or shrubs unless they have been forced ahead or from a garden center well to our south. Most trees and shrubs from garden centers in Sullivan, Wayne and Pike counties have been hardened off, but be careful with plants that have been forced like hydrangeas that are blooming now.

Their blooms will be burnt by the frost and even though it will not kill them, it will knock off the blooms and take about a month for new blooms to emerge.

But if you are looking to plant shrubs that are just starting to leaf out or non-flowering evergreens even nights like Wednesday will not bother them. And if we do get another really cold night here in the future, just break out the sheets and cover your new plants up to keep them warm.

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