This weekend may be the traditional time for gardeners to roll up their sleeves and put their plants in the ground, but one local master gardener is sounding a note of caution.
Diane Sharp said the cold, wet spring this year has put the growing season back by as much as three weeks and, while it may be just fine to put most plants in the ground this weekend, care should be taken with some of the more tender varieties.
“Any of the plants in the nightshade family, like peppers, tomatoes and eggplants, as well as squash, originally come from warmer climates and they need higher night time temperatures,” she said. “If people put them out this weekend and then we have several nights of cold weather, the plants are never going to look that great and will struggle.”
Gardeners who are impatient to get their squash into their garden can do so, she said, but certain precautions will help them avoid disappointment.
“If people absolutely dying to get those squash plants out, put something over them for those night temperatures until we get to 10 degrees at night,” Sharp said. “It can be as simple as plastic milk jugs with the bottoms cut out.”
She stressed however these protective covers should only be used at night, as higher daytime temperatures could cook — and possibly kill — the plants.
Sharp also urged gardeners to apply organic fertilizer to the soil before planting their vegetables.
“They need to add something to the soil usually,” she said. “If you use garden soil that has been gardened in year after year, the vegetables take a lot out of it and if you don’t put anything back in, the soil becomes depleted quickly.”
Sharp had one more message to Oceanside gardeners.
“Get out and enjoy,” she said.