April 2, 2017
Q & A: Cool Season Veggies & Unpredictable Weather – Is It Too Early to Plant My Cool Season Vegetables?
The temperature has been closely related to Katy Perry’s song lyrics, “hot and then cold… up and then down.” One day we are wearing shorts soaking up sun and the next we have ten layers on shoveling snow. Wacky weather has put some hesitation in our minds about planting our cool season vegetables. I’ve been asking myself, “Is it too early to plant my veggies… Will they be damaged in the cold?”
I spoke with some of our expert greenhouse folks to answer several commonly asked questions pertaining to early planting and if weather changes the plans.
Q: Is it too early to plant cool season vegetables in the ground, especially with the weather that has been happening?
A: It is fine to plant your veggies early. You want to look at the nighttime temperatures, where your plants are located, and what type of soil you’ll be working with. If the soil is too moist from rain or rock hard, then it is not workable, making it hard to plant your veggies. It is best if you plant plants facing south or against a wall, this will be easier.
Q: When is the best time frame to plant cool season vegetables and which ones?
A: Late March is a great time for lettuce, Swiss chard, and spinach. Our rule of thumb is to plant snap peas around St. Patrick’s Day, as well as lettuce. We love planting herbs early, like rosemary or sage. They can be pretty hardy during cold spurts and can be easily planted in a container that you can move around. Towards the summer lettuce and spinach will grow seed stalks, which are bitter, so that’s why they are good to plant and eat early on.
Q: Is there a difference between planting in a container or in the ground when it’s cold?
A: Both have advantages. Containers are a wonderful way to jump start lettuce or spinach and can be moved inside a garage or shed, which can protect them from weather elements or animals getting a quick snack. On the other hand, the ground allows for more space for the roots to spread and the vegetables to grow larger. We like to mix the cool season vegetables and herbs with our perennials!
Q: What temperature do cool season vegetables like?
A: The best temperature to grow cool season vegetables is 50°– 60° F during the day and 40°– 60° F at night.
Q: How will the temperatures affect the growth of the vegetables?
A: If the temperature is too warm or too cold, the growth of your plants will be stunted. You want to plant in-between. This is why the temperatures are so specific. Who wants cold or wilted plants? Or none at all?!
Q: How do you protect your cool season veggies from unforeseen cold weather?
A: There are several ways to protect your precious plants. Bucks Country Gardens has NuVue Row Gro tunnels, which create a perfect environment for an extended growing season, filters UV light, keeps insects out, and protects from severe weather. Creating a mini greenhouse will protect from snow and warm the soil faster. Frost cloths are nice because they are light and won’t smash your plants. You can also find anything around the house, like newspaper or burlap to cover up your plants for the night. The soil won’t be as cold as the air. Use containers and move your veggies indoors with ease. For seedlings, we have heat mats, so growth won’t be stunted.
Q: What are your favorite cool season vegetables?
A: Our favorites are spinach and Swiss chard. Spinach is an everyday fix. Popeye would be proud! Swiss chard is so easy to love because you can sauté it and eat with pasta and it is just so pretty to look at! The colors are vibrant and it tastes great!
If you properly place and protect your cool season vegetables, there should be no problems in planting them now. Be mindful of what you are planting and when you are planting and be prepared for any weather. Happy gardening! Hopefully the winter weather will break soon! I know I am staying positive.
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