Plants in our garden are very confused by the peculiar weather this year – first blooming in February, then getting chilled again and drenched in March. We caught up with our executive director and master gardener, Bruce Campbell, to see how it’s affecting what volunteers need to do in the garden this time of year, and maybe tasks that home gardeners aren’t quite ready for.
On the upside, it made for some very pretty nectarine and peach blossoms and a little extra winter vegetables like broccoli and kale to deliver to Open Heart Kitchen and Tri-Valley food pantries. On the downside, well, it is a little more work to harvest when you don’t really expect to need to.
“There’s nothing you can do other than harvest,” Bruce said. And if you want your plants to keep producing vegetables and fruit into the spring, you really must harvest otherwise the plants start bolting, meaning they put more resources into producing flowers and re-seeding rather than into producing the edible parts that you want. This was already to happening in February to the broccoli, kale and similar plants.
“The cabbage family plants are all bolting,” he said.
This kind of year is a good example of why you can’t plant too early – even though it was warm and sunny in February – because the normal last frost of the year isn’t until around mid-March.