Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cool, Wet Weather Persists

Freeze damage on tender grape leaves
The limp grape leaves in the photo show one effect of cool, rainy spring weather. Clearing skies on May 10 as a storm system moved out after a week of rain allowed temperatures to plunge below freezing overnight damaging tender new leaf growth. Reserve buds will need to grow to take the place of the lost leaf tissue. Leaves that had already fully expanded and hardened were not damaged.

If you are anxious to plant warm season plants this is a lesson in hardening them off first. Plants purchased at plant sales should be shuttled in and out of the house or coldframe for at least a week, out on warm days and in overnight or on cold days. Nighttime temperatures remain in the forties at mid-month, way too cold for tomatoes and the like. Soil preparation including fertilization and adding compost are good places to direct your efforts now.

Spreading compost on vegetable
garden to mix in 4 to 6 inches
Soil temperatures at 4 inches have crept up to 54 degrees F after plunging to 50 degrees F following a week of cloudy, rainy weather. Keep in mind that the minimum soil temperature for tomatoes is 50 degrees F. Planting is possible under Walls of Water that keep above-ground plant parts warm overnight. Better yet use them in combination with plastic mulch that also utilizes the sun to warm soil for roots to grow. The plastic can be removed in June along with the Walls of Water if you care to not leave in place for the season.

 For some vegetable gardeners warm season crops are the reason to grow a vegetable garden. Cool, rainy spring weather has made this more of a cool season vegetable gardener's year so far.

Delayed planting of warm season vegetables to closer the end of the month is likely a better approach for those not using Walls of Water and plastic mulch. For information on planting warm and cool season vegetables, see the CSU Extension "Vegetable Planting Guide."

Photo credit: Freeze damaged grape leaves, Compost application - both credit Carl Wilson

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