Fools rush in

Create a back-up plan with insulating fleece

newDonnawebIt’s early spring and it seems like time to plant.

Well go ahead and shop ‘till you drop. But consider holding back on planting the tender plants such as Hosta, Begonias and even Marigolds unless you have a backup plan this spring.

I’m not talking a big plan like a home greenhouse or sturdy cold-frame. The backup plan can be as simple as a few meters of insulating fleece, also sold as Reemay or spunbond polyester. This light fabric is sold in packages at hardware stores and by the meter from rolls in garden centres.

It is sold in different thickness levels and is good for different degrees of frost. Even the thinnest, lightest fleece materials will give a few degrees of frost protection, and that is what we need in May in Calgary.

The good news is fleece offers much more than frost protection. It will also block the wind and some of the sun, so it helps you harden plants right in the garden.

New gardeners think the only worry is frost, but it’s so much more than that with new plants. Tender greenhouse-raised plants have been lushly fertilized, exposed to perfect light conditions and sheltered from the wind. They almost always get sunburned leaves when first exposed to the fully bright Calgary sun.

“So don’t be a fool this spring. Go ahead and buy the plants you want when you want to and pot them up.”

Even if they are watered well in the morning, they will wilt by afternoon because of the drying effect of the wind and the sun on the tender soft plants.

So don’t be a fool this spring. Go ahead and buy the plants you want when you want to and pot them up. But don’t set them out in the garden without some shelter for at least three to five days.

The spunbond fabric is light, so it can be draped over the newly planted annuals and perennials and then clipped in place around the pots with clothes pegs or bull clips. If the plants are in the ground, the edges of fabric can be held down with bricks or rocks.

The plants are then gradually uncovered after four or five days. But keep the fabric handy until the long-term weather forecast shows the evenings at about 3 to 5 C.

There is no use being a fool and needing to replace plants bought too early and needlessly exposed to the winds, sun and frost of our changeable Calgary climate. And there is no use being the fool who fails to buy plants until the plant selection resembles a buffet at a refuge camp.

Go ahead and buy what you need for your garden sooner rather than later, but purchase a little insurance in the form of fleece on the side – just to be safe.

Donna Balzer is an enthusiastic gardenerand entertaining speaker. Sign up for her e-newsletter at www.gardenguru.net or follow her on Twitter @NoGuffGardener.

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