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What to know before planting your garden this spring

The chilly grasp of winter is finally behind us, with the promise of warmer temperatures ahead, but experts suggest gardening enthusiasts hold off before planting just yet.

Mother Nature's unpredictable pattern continues despite the calendar reading mid-May, with temperatures dipping to near the freezing mark overnight Tuesday and Wednesday.

Environment Canada warns there is a risk of frost in the overnight and early morning hours, which could threaten delicate plants.

Frost can cause ice crystals to form on plant surfaces, damaging plant cells, resulting in wilting, browning and, in severe cases, plant death.

Even cold-tolerant plants can suffer damage if exposed to a sudden temperature drop during vulnerable growth stages.

PLANTS VULNERABLE TO FROST

Tender Annuals: Plants like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and basil thrive in warm conditions. These tender annuals are susceptible to frost damage and should be planted once the weather becomes consistently milder.

Warm-Season Flowers: Delicate flowers such as marigolds, zinnias, and petunias are better off waiting until the frost risk has passed. These flowers tend to prefer warmer temperatures and will struggle to survive in cold conditions.

Tropical Plants: If you have tropical plants like palm trees or exotic flowers, it's crucial to protect them from frost. These plants are highly sensitive to low temperatures and should remain indoors or in a greenhouse until the risk of frost diminishes.

PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES

While garden experts say it's best to hold off on planting frost-sensitive plants, here are some steps to protect them from chilly overnight temperatures.

Covering: Use blankets, sheets, or specially designed frost protection fabric to cover vulnerable plants during colder nights. This helps trap heat radiating from the ground and provides a layer of insulation.

Container Gardening: If you're eager to start gardening, consider using containers for sensitive plants. Containers can be easily moved indoors or to sheltered areas, like a garage or shed, during frosty nights, providing added protection.

By Thursday, overnight temperatures climb to 5C, and double-digit temps by Friday with a chance of showers.

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