The cool days of spring are upon us

The air has been pleasantly and unseasonably warm for a good part of March. And, if you are like me, all this beautiful weather has given you spring fever. Right now, I want nothing more than to be out in my garden planting my vegetables, flowers and herbs. But, I know I have to be cautious. Even though the days are getting warmer, we are still quite a ways off from our average last frost date.

The average last spring frost date is the day, or range of days, in which the last frost typically occurs. If you live closer to the lake that date can range between April 30 and May 20. But, if you live in the Adirondacks, the date ranges from May 20 until the beginning of June! So, despite our urge to get out there and plant, we need to make sure what we plant is not susceptible to frost.

Luckily for us, there are many garden flowers that prefer the cool days of spring. Two of the most popular cool season annuals are the pansy and viola. These beauties do best during the cool spring and fall weather. Dead-heading the flowers will keep the blooms coming for weeks. And, now there are several varieties that tolerate a light freeze.

While we all love our summer tomatoes, now is not the time to plant them. They are not tolerant of frost and prefer warmer soil temperatures. There are many cool season vegetables that do allow us to harvest crops from spring through the fall. Most of the vegetables that you can get into the ground within the next few weeks are leafy vegetables or root crops. If you are thinking about planting soon, think about radishes, carrots, onions, beets, spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard, and bok choy. And, of course don't forget about peas. Spring is the perfect time to get your peas into the ground!

Anne Lenox Barlow works at Campbell's Greenhouse in Saranac and has had experience in the agricultural field as a horticulture educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. She can be reached by e-mail at a.lennox.barlow@gmail.com.

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