May is April?

The right time to plant warm weather crops outdoors.

Marigolds add color to the early spring garden

After a snow-less March in Minneapolis (first time since they’ve been recording the weather), and an April that seemed like May (blooming lilacs, dandelions, and crab trees), the first week of May feels like early April – in a “normal” year.

The forecast calls for snow north of the cities this weekend.  There is definitely something to be said for the “urban heat island” when you’re itching to get out in the garden.

I was at the local garden center this weekend and the place was crawling with fellow gardeners seeking vibrant, blooming color to liven up their terrain.  Of course it could have been the $2 bags of mulch that drew in the crowd, but my instincts tell me it was the burning desire that most gardeners get in early spring to get out and start planting.  As tempting as that is, I don’t recommend planting any warm weather sets or annuals that are not hardy before Memorial Day Weekend.  It’s just too likely that temps will dip into the freezing range overnight.

Even during an unusually warm spring like this one has been, planting sets before the end of May doesn’t gain you much.  I’ve found that the warm weather crops (tomatoes and peppers) don’t grow much in cool temperatures.  They do just as well indoors until overnight temps are safe.  Of course, you should set the plants outdoors during the day in a sheltered area to help harden them off before planting them in the ground.

OK – so I’ll admit it.  I did purchase a few annual flowers to add color around my backyard pond.  I didn’t get too crazy though – just a few trays of impatiens, marigolds, and violas.  I also picked up some mulch for the ground around the pond.  There was plenty of shredded leaves left from the fall leaf harvest (the annual shred fest that produces 30 lawn bags of shredded oak leaves and makes wonderful mulch), but I like to add a thin layer to give a bright, fresh look in the spring.  I thoroughly enjoyed adding the flowers to the back landscaped area behind the pond and scattering the mulch around.  That was a good dose of digging that will last until the warm weather returns – when I plan to add some Endless Summer™ Hydrangea