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Cover Your Tenders! What This Means for Spring Gardening

Cover plants with cloth to prevent frost


What Do The Weather Folks Mean.. “Tenders”?

By, Kevin Cutlip
The weather is sublime. We’re cutting grass, planting beds, mulching and maybe even cooking out. What are the Weather Folks referring to as, “cover your tenders”?

Mostly they are referring to your “tender annuals”, or the new additions of annuals and perennials in your garden. This season, though, as the temps are already in the 70’s and 80’s, we are wanting to garden! Just take a minute, and check your journals. This time last year we were waiting for another hit from Polar Vortex. Since mid Spring ’15, we have been in “El Nino”, Warm Wet Baby”. There will be another round of 30’s coming in the next few days. Watch, your, “tenders”

What to do? Well, several ideas come to mind. The really cool stuff is hitting the nursery yard already, and I say “go for it”! One simple rule applies, though, and that is, watch mother nature! You don’t need to cover everything as the climate finds a couple of snags such as temperatures in the lower 30’s or maybe a frost. There are just a few diligent “Gardenista” things to remember. Mostly pay attention to any recent additions that have new leaves.

Cool weather vegetable

In our several garden classes in the past weeks, we covered these weather phenomena, and what to do. The most asked question, “Can I grow now?” was answered. Cold crops – yes, shrub and trees – yes, pansies – YES! I would wait until about April 15 for warm season veggies, that way there will be no threat for a late season frost. That doesn’t mean you can’t get them, just be prepared to be a “gardener”. As you harden off your seedlings, don’t forget to bring them back in at night.

For the “tenders” already in the garden, there are ways to avoid frost burn. Wet them down the evening before, or cover them with a plastic sheeting. Remove it when the sun comes up. Humidity will help prevent frost burn as well. Place open buckets of water in the rows of your garden. This will prevent frost from occurring. Put containers under cover, like an overhang or covered patio. Frost usually occurs around 3 a.m., which is the downfall of temperatures, dry air and freezer burn.

Hardening off is a great aspect of getting your coming season’s live goods off to a healthier start, but frost can set you back. This weekend, there is frost coming, so remember to cover Your tenders!

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