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Growin’ Green

Most Cool Season Crops Can Handle Cold

By Brent Gray

Winter won’t let go, but most cool season crops are able to withstand temperatures just below freezing. There is no need to cover most of the cool season things we have in our garden when the temperature remains above 28 degrees. Mustard is the most tender of our common garden vegetables and should be covered at 28.
Strawberry flowers and  warm season plants should be protected when the weatherman calls for frost that occurs above 32 degrees.
Strong weather fronts passing through often have strong winds associated with them. The rapidly moving air increases the amount of water that plants use. Cold fronts are more troublesome than warm fronts since the air is dry as well as quickly moving. Monitor your plants after fronts move through and irrigate as necessary.
Take this waiting time to plan your vegetable garden. Only plant vegetables you will use. Bad news is to have plenty of greens but no pepper sauce. Check the freezer and see if you still have more than half of what you put into it last summer. Southern peas are one crop that a lot of folks keep planting in  the same area of the garden  while having packages from two years ago still in the freezer. On the other hand many are already out of sweet corn.
Be sure to check the flower buds and blooms of your fruit trees. Many pears, apples, plums and peaches had swollen buds or open blossoms when the last cold front came through. Take a bud or bloom from a node that has too many and cut it in half lengthwise. The interior should be white or slightly off white in a healthy bud. Brown or black interiors mean the bud will not produce fruit.

Take Pictures Of Your Spring Garden

As your spring-flowering garden begins to go into glory mode take photos so you can refer to them later in the year. These will especially come in handy this fall when you are expanding your landscape areas with spring flowering plants. Can’t remember exactly where all those buttercups are planted?  Can’t remember the exact shade of pink those azaleas were so you can complement them with other flower shades?
Having a garden photo album will really help. It can be a “hard” copy with pictures actually in an album or it can exist in a folder on your home computer. While you’re at it, why not sketch a planting map in your gardening journal to show where any spring bulbs are located. With an accurate plot plan you will know where to plant spring-flowering bulbs this fall.  
You’ll also be able to plan for continuous flowering by sowing or transplanting annual or perennial flowers among the bulbs after their display has ended to disguise the maturing bulb foliage–as all Master Gardeners and other good gardeners know, we should leave the bulb foliage to yellow and dieback in place which completes the process of channeling energy from the leaves to the bulb to support next year’s flowers.

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