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When to Plant

When to Plant? - By Peter Josephy

Cariboo Observer, Gardening Special 1983

The most often asked question these days at the nursery is, “Is it safe now, to set these plants out in the garden?” Well, like they say here, only fools and newcomer’s predict the weather in the Cariboo, and I have been here since 1951.

Some years ago I looked up the climatic data at the airport, at that time panning 66 years, and came up with some interesting notes. For instance, the earliest date for the last killing frost was May 7th, and the latest July 11th. Which means it was safe to set tomato plants out into the garden after the 7th of May that particular year, while they would have frozen July the 11th that other year.

The longest frost free period was 144 days, while the shortest was 11 days. Obviously there weren’t too many tender vegetables or flowers around that year, with those 11 days without frost.

So what are we to tell our customers? We tell them it’s safe to plant trees, shrubs and perennials, of course. Also, some bedding plants, grown in the greenhouse, but hardened off outside for a while, notably petunias and snapdragons; will take up to 5 degrees of frosts. Other plants, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, are better set out later. For those who can’t wait, tender varieties of plants benefit greatly when put under a hot cap, which is a miniature greenhouse. Not only does this protect the plants form freezing, it also makes them grow much faster.

The climate is changing, you say? Well, I am a sceptic. To be sure, maybe you better build yourself a greenhouse.

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