Here are a few things to consider before you begin planting your garden….
Where is the best place to plant…?
Consider the micro climates available to you as you consider where to plant. The location within a yard can make quite a difference.
A protected area with less wind can be significantly warmer than out in the open. And a place along a north wall away from the sunlight of mid day, will take longer to warm up. The ground can remain frozen for days after the south side has turned soft and wet.
Consider reserving warmer more protected spaces in your yard for plants that would really benefit from more heat, such as tomatoes and peppers. Areas with a bit of shade during the day so they stay a bit cooler are preferred sites for plants that like it cool such as lettuce, spinach and radishes.
Once you’ve chosen your micro climates, it’s time to take a look at the ground, if you’ll be planting into it. A softer soil with good drainage is much easier to work with. Ground that is too compacted will need more tillage and additional organic matter.
How you can prepare for late frosts
If you’re keeping your plants in pots, simply moving them indoors overnight or until the cold spell ends can be a good solution.
For plants that can’t be moved around easily, it’s a good idea to select some plant covering materials ahead of time and keep them handy for when the cold does move in. Spring in Ontario, can be very warm for a spell and then switch to frost… enough to due in any unprotected peppers and tomatoes. And it only takes one cold night!
And remember to remove those covers once it warms up. Heat can build up quickly under materials, such as clear plastic, very fast once the sun comes out.
Water supply… and how to make the most of it
For a good productive garden adequate water is essential.
Using collected rain water rather than chlorinated tap water for your plants avoids killing off soil microbes.
Keep the soil surface covered with some kind of mulch – organic or otherwise to keep the topsoil from drying out. Practice minimal tillage by keeping it shallow can help keep moisture in the root zone during dry spells.
Will we have wet summer or a dry one? Who knows… either way, planning for water collecting and conservation can ensure an adequate water supply for a good productive garden… which is what we really want when we’ve done all the work.
Plan for Pest Control
Shorter, warmer winters allows more overwintering pests to survive and re-emerge as the weather warms up. Historically, our longer winters and colder conditions have limited many pest species to just one generation in a season.
With the milder winters of recent years, we’ve begun to see 2 or more generations emerge in growing season. Having an extra wave or two of pests such as flea beetles to deal with, makes pest control more challenging.
One approach is stock up on chemical pesticides and then spray more often. Another, is to plan for pests by providing food and habitat for natural predators so they’ll be in area once the pests emerge or move in.
Not all pests overwinter locally. Some are long-distance travelers, going south much like the birds for the colder part of the year.
With increased insect pest populations comes increased disease pressure too. Many insects carry disease spores, bacteria and viruses from plant to plant as they munch. And often you don’t have to have many pests to end up with disease problems.
It’s another reason to prepare and to monitor for insect pests.