Early Flower and Vegetable Planting

With the warmer than usual spring weather, is it ok to plant my flowers and vegetables early this year? Because of the weather, we can plant hardy or cold tolerant vegetables and flowers now. It is still too early to plant tender vegetables and flowers unless you provide protection. The average last frost date in Vancouver is April 17. However, we can expect frost in the higher elevations much later than that. Hardy vegetables and flowers can withstand several degrees of frost (as low as 26 degrees). Hardy vegetables include all the leaf, root and flower bud vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower) plus peas and fava beans. Although potatoes are tender to frost, it takes 3 weeks or longer for them to come up from seed potato pieces. By then we will be past most frost danger. Plants of many of these vegetables are already available in nurseries and garden stores. I prefer to plant all the root and leaf vegetables except cabbage, potatoes and onions from seed. Onions can be planted from transplants or tiny onion bulbs called onion sets. Asparagus is another good vegetable to plant now from roots. Although you may also find plants available in stores, I prefer to wait until the end of April to plant tender vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, beans and sweet corn unless you have some way of increasing the day temperature as well as protecting from frost. Cold night temperatures tend to stunt these vegetables and later planted ones often pass up the earlier planted ones. A newly revised 4 page leaflet “Vegetable Gardening in the Pacific Northwest” is available on my web site www.naturalpruningnw.com under “How to Guide/Vegetables”. It includes planting date information for all vegetables. Or if you prefer, I can send you a copy by email. Hardy Flowers include all perennial flowers and annual flowers like petunia, pansy, viola, alyssum, snapdragon, blue salvia, sweet peas, candytuft, carnation, dianthus and dusty miller. Although they may also be available in stores, I would wait until late April or May to plant tender flowers like geranium, begonia, impatiens, marigold, zinnia, lobelia, ageratum, aster, coleus, cosmos, dahlia, verbena and vinca. Just like tender vegetables, cold night temperatures tend to stunt plants of tender flowers. Many articles on flowers are also available on my web site how to guide.


Allen Wilson

Allen has been writing about gardening for over 30 years. He is a retired professor of Horticulture.

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