Jim McKenney
Thu, 11 Feb 2010 17:48:24 PST
I live about a 45 minute drive SW of Mark. The traditional safe planting
date for tender plants (tomatoes, eggplants for instance) used to be May 5.
In recent years, the last damaging frosts have occurred in early April, a
full month before the traditional date. However, there have been years when
there have been prolonged hard freezes in mid-April: I have photos of tulips
and crowns-imperial in full bloom, frozen hard, at they remained for a full
day or two. 


The big box stores yearly push the planting urge earlier and earlier with
truck loads of plants grown far south of here. It’s not unusual to see New
Guinea Impatiens, Tagetes marigolds, Salvia splendens, ageratums, fibrous
begonias, tomatoes and other extremely tender plants being sold in late
March. This must make the nursery business very nerve wracking because such
plants have to be moved around a lot to keep them from freezing at night,
and there must be a long line of disgruntled buyers who take their plants
home only to see them die in a few days in an overnight freeze. It’s crazy. 


Not only is it crazy, it has trained the gardening public to ignore the
potentially long season of bloom which can be gotten (at minimal expense)
from truly hardy annuals. A whole season of bloom and its traditional plants
have all but disappeared from our gardening experience and tradition. A
whole generation of well-heeled but not well-read gardeners has supplanted
the older, slow-lane gardeners who knew how to get the greatest variety out
of their circumstances with the least cost. 


I don’t want to see a marigold in my garden blooming next to a tulip. 


Play it safe, Mark, and wait at least until well into April. 


Jim McKenney

Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone

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