Next week will bring the first day of spring. However, we could always have a late frost through all of May. What to do, what to do???
While I have had my hands full of various in-the-house projects, I find I can't wait to get out there and clean up my now frumpy backyard. I will be out there pruning and raking, etc. tomorrow. Yesterday DH hired someone to cut back our enormous Jacaranda while I was at work. He called to ask how much I wanted it "topped" because that is the word I always used about this never pruned tree. The crew assured him they knew how to do it, and after all was said & done he called to tell me that I should prepare myself because I no longer had a Jacaranda...I now had just a Jac.
He thought I would be mad, very mad. But while I was only thinking of making it shorter, they pruned it like all of the other Jacs get pruned around here. It was in its uglier stage of the year so all is well...
Summers are just this side of hell, but you don't have to shovel sunshine...
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Does your area have light frosts until May or killing frosts? If a light frost is predicted cover the plants with bed sheets to protect them. It's best to have wood stakes around the plants but if you don't just use old bed sheets.
If a light frost is predicted go outside at 10 in the evening and light something that will create smoke such as incense or a cigarette. It the smoke travels straight up without moving in any other direction definitely cover your plants. Otherwise the movement of wind will create enough friction to protect your plants. If there isn't any wind when you cover the plants but overnight winds blow the sheets off don't worry about it. The wind will help protect your plants. That's why the citrus growers use wind machines and helicopters to protect the trees during sub-freezing weather.
Make sure to remove the sheets in the morning. Those old sheets aren't worthless to a gardener in our part of the country. If you don't have any check a thrift store to see if they have any.
Also don't cultivate the soil if a frost is predicted because it will create air pockets that won't hold the heat in because air is a poor heat conductor. Wetting the soil 1 to 3 days before the frost is best as wet soil is darker and increases absorption of solar radiation. You can also place clear plastic over the ground to help warm the soil and increase protection.
Our last official frost date is the beginning of June however I almost always do my containers with frost tender annuals on the May long weekend (this year May 18-20th in Canada) as it's usually safe and some are on the raised deck above ground frost. We can apparently have frost any month of the year altho in over 20 years of living here I haven't seen that. June, July, and most of August are usually frost free.
I won't 'baby' plants and won't protect anything from frost. Everything living here has to be tough to survive! LOL I no longer even winterize my roses except for one that was a tender grocery store gift rose in a pot that has now survived several years outdoors in my garden. It's really a miracle.
This year since I'll be away in June I won't do containers until I get home. Plants might even be on sale then which will be an added bonus. OR I might plant the annuals in the garden so they can start growing, then move to containers when I get home.
"I have always had an aversion to the concepts of in style and out of style." ~Rose Tarlow
Inspirational pics: http://inspiration4u.shutterfly.com/
Weather has been so finiky this past decade that it is hard to predict the last frost day. I jst plant when "I" think it is alright. Around here the weather reporter know less than the gardeners do so I don't pay a whole lot of attention to them. I do the sheet thing when I think it is necessary. I never till my soil so don't have to worry about that.
Our average last frost date is March 1. We had 34º yesterday morning...but no frost...just windy & cold.
I have declared that yesterday's low was the last of the 30's and it's time to get things going outside. I bought some mater plants today! I'll plant them outside tomorrow.
Our weather folks have been unreliable all winter too. I'm going by my bones, my arthritis and my gut feelings!
"The soil is the source of life, creativity, culture and real independence." David Ben-Gurion
The Average Latest Date of Frost for any area of the world can be found from your local office of your state universities Cooperative Extension Service where they will also tell you that frosts can occur later. Or you can visit this web site and find your ALDF by zip code, kind of.
The sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, it is brown knees.
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