Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Beware Damage of Late Frosts; the Recent Spate of Warm Weather Shouldn't Prompt Gardeners to Plant out Tender Plants Just Yet, Because Late Frosts Can Still Do Their Worst, Hannah Stephenson Warns

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Beware Damage of Late Frosts; the Recent Spate of Warm Weather Shouldn't Prompt Gardeners to Plant out Tender Plants Just Yet, Because Late Frosts Can Still Do Their Worst, Hannah Stephenson Warns

Article excerpt

IT'S so tempting, I know. All those annuals you've sown indoors from seed are now big enough to plant out, the tomato seedlings are doing well and you just want to clear those windowsills, the greenhouse or the conservatory to make a head start on summer.

But be warned, if you risk planting tender plants out before the last frosts have passed, it could ruin all your hard work of the previous months.

Depending on where you live, a late frost can hit in late May or even in June, reducing your tender plants to shrivelling corpses, so it's prudent to be cautious about planting out or removing protection too early and to plant tender bedding plants out after the danger of frost has passed.

It's best really to sow seed of frost-tender vegetables including French and runner beans, courgettes, marrows, cucumbers, tomatoes, squashes and melons, in April under cover because they are going to take four or five weeks to establish before they can be put outside, so that way they are timed to be planted out after the last frosts are over.

Anything grown in a frost-free greenhouse such as patio plants and frost-tender vegetables will need hardening off before being planted outside, to acclimatise them slowly to outdoor conditions.

Harden them off two to three weeks before planting. They can be hardened off in a cold frame or simply moved outside into a sunny, sheltered position during the day then brought back inside at night.

For new tender plants which are already in the ground but need some protection, cloches are always a good idea and can be removed during the day when the temperatures rise.

Protect new shoots and fruit tree blossom with horticultural fleece and cover plants in an unheated greenhouse with newspaper.

If spring frosts have affected tender young growth, causing scorching and pale brown patches to appear between the leaf veins, often on the exposed and top edges of the plant, don't give up just yet as the plant may still be alive. …

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