Hello, again!

We all have our own theories on the weather. I’m not talking about how some believe Chemtrails are really clouds of hazardous chemicals being sprayed into the atmosphere by airplanes to manipulate our minds, make us sick, and/or control the weather. Rather, more along the lines that some think if a squirrel has more fur this fall, we are in for a long, cold winter. Or that there are some in Pennsylvania who believe that a furry rodent predicts the weather.

My theories of weather pretty much are all related to horticulture and plants, and how weather affects our ornamental plants. Weather plays an important role in plants and their flowering and fruiting function s. Fruit trees require ‘chill hours’ for fruiting. An apple tree needs 1,000 hours of 32-45 degree temperatures to fruit. Tulips, and other spring flowering bulbs, require 12-16 weeks of chill to bloom.

Earlier this week, my friend Shawn was concerned about his daffodils that were showing 3-4” of foliage. In the past he has grown tulips. Each autumn, Shawn would dig a trench approximately 3’ x 20’ to work Cotton Burr Compost into his east-side clay soil, and also strategically place yellow Darwin Hybrid Dutch tulip bulbs. (I often advise my east-side friends to move west where the soil makes gardening so easy, by the way.) Changing from tulips to daffodils for this spring, the earlier show of foliage was a concern for him.

My direction on cold freezing conditions and spring flowering bulbs has always been to leave them be. They’ll be fine. I contend that the soil will freeze at 32 degrees and that’s about as cold as the soil will be. Wanting to confirm my theory, I made a call to my friend at KAKE-TV, Meteorologist Frank Waugh. He pretty much went along with my theory but did say that the longer it stays this cold, the more likely the soil temperatures will drop below 32. Frank did share with me a link to KSU Soil Temperature that shows soil temperatures around the state. In our area today, at 2” deep our soil is 32 degrees and at 4” it’s 33 degrees. The snowfall we receive this week will help insulate our plants. Our winter hardy pansies, without the covering will dry up, but with a covering of snow they will be blooming in early March.

Some things I do tend to follow with weather and horticulture:

  • Listen to Meteorologists. If they say it’s going to be cold 2 weeks out, I’ll keep my coat handy.
  • No matter when Easter falls, that’s when Spring finally starts.
  • Don’t be afraid to try plants outside of our weather (hardiness zone) region.

Stay warm the next few days; Frank says it’s going to stay cold!!

Your friend in the garden,

Marty Johnson
Owner - Johnson's Garden Centers