Wednesday, April 27, 2011

'Weather' to plant?

The sunny day on the weekend has all our baskets and annuals bursting with colour and our growing area has been opened to the public. Since we know you will be dying to take these beauties home here is some good advice from Celeste on when you can plant your annuals:

Environment Canada Climate Almanac is a great resource for comparative weather records year to year.  We recommend asking one of the staff members if you are unsure about the timing of planting out your bedding.  Although we have a good portion of bedding available on our tables, the night temperatures MUST be reaching ON AVERAGE, 10-13 degrees Celsius and NO LESS consistently. This rule applies to exposed planting areas and really affects succulent, shade loving plants to the greatest degree. Impatiens, begonias, coleus, and Sweet Potato Vine are some examples of overly sensitive annuals. Tomatoes are the 2nd most temperature sensitive crop available at this time. People mistakenly assume that if it becomes tank-top weather in the daytime, tomatoes will do well outside. Tomatoes are rendered basically fruitless when they are exposed to vast ranges in temperatures (7-9 degrees Celsius change).  If the tomatoes survive, they will go into emergency mode, exhibiting strange purpling of the leaves (anthocyanescence); sometimes the leaf edges become thickened & curled under. Cold damage is apparent when the leaves take on a blanched appearance; like all the green is gone or burned out. Tomato seedlings can be more easily protected than a half-grown, stocky plant. Bell cloches or modified milk jugs work to protect a seedling overnight BUT it must be removed in midmorning when the sun comes out. If that cloche or jug is still in place when the sun pops over the hedge, you will find a fried little seedling instead of your little leafy green guy!  Basil is the MOST sensitive of all the annual crops we offer. I have lost basil plants 3 times in one season due to late chills all the way into June.  Just leave your basil plant inside on your kitchen window until well into June. Geraniums and petunias, as well as marigolds and salvia can withstand the cooler 10 degree minimum, but you will not achieve much of a head start if you put these guys out too early, as they will become stunted if too chilled, and remain alive, but in a sorry state of limbo through the summer.
Covered balconies and porches are excellent for providing the required shelter if you wish to purchase plants early, but NOT your garage or inside your home as the lack of light, low humidity, and warmer temperatures could be just as detrimental to the plants as the chills out in the yard. I know that many of you are like me & just chomping at the bit for the green light to get back out into the garden….You will have the best experience you can with what ever outdoor endeavor you have planned when you ask for our expert advice @  
West Coast Gardens.