Monday, April 13, 2015

Let the Planting Begin...for Some Plants

March and April warm weather along the Front Range has confused and possibly tricked us into thinking it is time to plant outdoors, even tomatoes.  In a word, no, it's not time to plant tomatoes unless you're using cloches, wall-o-water or some kind of method that will keep the plants warm at night - above 55 degrees.  All warm-season vegetables and ornamentals need to be treated this way. This may be too much "minding" if you're the plant and go type of gardener and just don't want to mess with covers or warming huts.  

Shopping for warm-season plants is fine, but if you buy, you'll have to keep them happily growing until well after the average frost date, usually some time in May (but there's no way of knowing the exact date).  And "by happily growing," the plant needs light, water and fertilizer.  My best advice...wait and buy warm-season plants in late April or May when the plants are at their best and content from garden center tlc.  But go ahead and purchase pansies and osteospurmum for early season container or outdoor planting. They can take some chilly nights as long as they are well hardened off before planting. However I still recommend covering them for severe cold and snow storms. 

You can direct seed ornamental sweet peas and many cool-season vegetables outside right now - lettuce, spinach, radish, beets, kale, arugula, Swiss chard, and onions.  You can also plant potatoes, perennial bare root horseradish, rhubarb and asparagus crowns (shop now, supplies are going fast for these perennial veggies).  Transplants of cabbage, Brussel's sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli can go out, but don't delay too much longer, they need time to get established in the ground and growing.  If nights are down in the low 40s cover with floating row cover to keep seeds and transplants from getting too cold.  Remove the covers the next day when the temperatures are out of the 30s or low 40s. 
For a helpful Colorado State University fact sheet on what vegetables can be planted now check out - Vegetable Planting Guide.

Read more about growing potatoes from Carol O'Meara, Boulder County Extension Agent.

Always use quality seed potatoes


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