Patience Pays

2009-04-12 Easter morning snow 006One thing I’ve learned (the hard way) is that it pays to be patient. Rushing the season usually results in cold-stunted plants, reduced yields, or, even worse, losing an entire crop to a late frost or snowstorm.

For example, most garden guides tell you to plant broccoli and other crucifers early—two weeks before your average last frost date—as the young plants can stand some frost. What they don’t tell you is that prolonged exposure to cold temperatures will ruin your chances for a harvest. Two to three days of temperatures that stay below 40 degrees will fool the seedlings into thinking they’ve experienced winter (can’t blame them a bit!). Instead of growing up and producing the nice, succulent head you’re anticipating, the broccoli will try to force the issue and “button.” That is, it will rush to bloom while still small, and all you get is a one-inch (or smaller) head with a bitter taste and tough texture. Bleah!

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Timing Peas

pea-vines-home-lahIt’s almost Saint Patrick’s Day, the traditional planting date for peas. Should you sow on March 17?

Not if you live along the Front Range! While St. Patty’s Day may work fine for New England, it’s probably the wrong day to plant for much of the country.

If you live in a warm climate (E.g., parts of California, Florida, and Arizona), you are far too late. Peas should be planted as a winter crop, so they can grow while the weather is cool and humidity is higher.

And if you live here in the Pikes Peak area, mid-March is much too early. Sure, peas planted now may survive and grow and produce a crop. But they may also rot in too-cold soil, waiting for temperatures at which they can germinate.

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