Before the Last Frost (1 Week!)

by - March 31, 2018

I've looked at the 10 day forecast and don't see any freezing weather ahead. Here in Raleigh (Zone 7b), we are finally down to one week until our average last frost date. Today is actually Good Friday, which sometimes falls after this date. It looks like we still may have a an evening or two in the 30s, so I will wait to plant the peppers since exposure to cooler temps can impact fruiting later in the season. I moved out herbs, pumpkins and watermelons. The herbs are all hardy, and pumpkins and watermelons are so easy to seed outside, I'll just drop in more seed if these starts don't survive.

Tasks for this week

  • You will save yourself much time weeding if you mulch. The best part about mulching is water conservation. Mulch helps prevent evaporation from the soil surface. Because it slows weed growth, you don't have extra roots competing for the soil's water either. When possible, mulch before planting so you don't have to work around delicate sprouts and plants. Check your local garden center for their various options - organic, marked for veggie gardens, etc. "Choosing the Right Mulch" from Gardener's Supply Company is a helpful resource for creative and practical solutions. This year I am trying "living mulch" in a few of the vegetable beds. Crimson clover will fix nitrogen, shade the ground keeping it cool and conserving water from evaporation. It will take up other nutrients, so I will need to watch for signs of stress on the vegetables and supplement when needed.
  • Check the weather and make sure there is no frost predicted, and if not, begin to harden off your plants. Hardening off involves leaving the cover open during the day and closed at night for several nights before planting. If your seedlings are indoors, set them outdoors during the day in an area that gets filtered light so that the leaves don't get burned by the sun. Bring them in at night for several days so they don't get shocked by the cooler temperatures. 
  • Enjoy watching your garden wake up! 

What to plant this week

This weekend I am direct seeding squash and sunflowers. 

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