It’s definitely spring, and I and the landscape are loving it! Even though we’ve had an unusually mild winter and an even warmer spring, central VA is agricultural Zone 7a meaning that our last potential frost date, believe it or not, is around mid April. Time will tell about this particular year, but historically, cold temps, especially night time, are definitely not done yet.
Many tender annuals and vegetables appear in the garden centers before it is actually safe to plant them in our area without protection. These plants have been raised in a greenhouse or protected shelter and need to be ‘hardened off’ before planting out in the garden. “Hardening off” means gradually exposing seedlings that have been started indoors to the outdoors. Usually that means a short 1-2 hour period of full sun and increasing each day, while bringing plants in at night. So don’t be fooled. If you jump ahead and plant early, be watchful of the forecasts and cover tender plants if needed.
If you like to plant annuals and vegetables, it’s important to note there are cool season and warm season types. My personal experience tells me that it’s a better bet in our area to grow varieties preferring cooler weather in the fall. Our spring daytime temperatures can suddenly climb into the nineties without warning even in mid spring, not conducive conditions for cool season crops. Here’s a list of veggies preferring cool weather:
COOL SEASON VEGGIES A-Z
Cool season herbs include dill, coriander/ cilantro, and tarragon. Cool season annuals include violas and pansies, snapdragons, sweet william (dianthus barbatus,) nasturtium, lobelia, larkspur, sweet pea flowers (Lathyrus odoratus,) and some petunias.
There is still a short window of opportunity to sow seeds for quick growing cool season veggies, but any that have a long growing season to maturity I believe are best grown this fall. Happy planting!
If you have gardening questions, don’t forget the great resources available. Professional landscape designers as well as local garden centers provide a wide variety of services and expertise to assist you in making the most of nature’s gifts. Your local County Extension Office also offers a wealth of information, clinics, talks, etc. Find the programs and publications in Virginia:
Next- warm season veggies…
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