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Tuesday, May 30, 2023
May 30, 2023

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Gardening With Allen: Now is time to plant hardy veggies


Spring so far has been so cold. Will it ever be warm enough or safe enough to plant shrubs, flowers and vegetables?

This is the coldest late winter and early spring I have experienced in 20 years. My guess is our season is three weeks later than normal. However, I suspect the last frost date will be pretty normal — around mid-April in Vancouver. We will not have to wait until then to plant many things.

All trees and shrubs can be planted now. I planted several blueberry and raspberry plants last week. Perennial flowers can be planted now also.

Annual flowers and vegetables can be divided into two groups: hardy and tender. Hardy flowers and vegetables can be planted ahead of the average last frost date. Hardy flowers and vegetables are not damaged until temperatures reach the mid-20s. Hardy vegetables fit neatly into an easy to remember group based upon the part of the plant which we eat. If we eat the roots, stems, leaves or flower buds it is a hardy vegetable with two exceptions. Potatoes and sweet potatoes fit in the tender group. Potatoes can actually be treated as if they are in the hardy group because seed potatoes do not come up above the ground for three to four weeks after planting.

If we eat the fruit of the plant it is a tender vegetable with two more exceptions. Peas and fava beans are hardy vegetables. I planted pea and sweet pea seed a week ago. I will plant lettuce and spinach seed this week. Seed of all the root vegetables can be planted any time now. Plants of lettuce, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli are available in stores now and can be safely transplanted outside.

Hardy flowers have to be looked up or learned one by one. Some of the major hardy flowers include alyssum, carnation, cosmos, dianthus, dusty miller, pansy, petunia, poppy, snapdragon and sweet pea. Pansies are often planted in the fall here to give color in the fall and early spring. I plan to wait until mid-April to plant my hardy flowers this year. Perhaps by then it will have reached normal March temperatures.

I always wait until May to plant tender vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and squash and tender flowers like marigolds, geraniums, impatiens and begonias. They do not make any growth until it warms into the 60s.