NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

May 22, 2013

Check weather before planting

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — Let me ask you a question. You are going to plant some vegetable plants or flower plants in your garden. You have your choice of planting on a sunny day or a day that is cloudy and a bit cool. Which day is the better day to put your plants in the ground?

The answer is the day that is cloudy and a bit cool. Let me tell you why this is the correct answer.

When you take a plant out of a pot and then replant the plant in your garden or into a container outside, the plant needs to get a root system established in the soil. Once the plant is in its new home, it must cope with sun and wind that will be taking moisture out of the leaves. The roots must then bring moisture out of the soil and bring it up to the leaves. If the plant is trying to establish a new root system and trying to get moisture to the leaves, the plant can be stunted in its growth.

On a cloudy and cool day, the roots don’t have to supply a lot of water to the leaves. If you have even just a 24-hour period without strong sun and warm weather, your plants will be able to get their roots off to a better start in their new home.

After your plants are in the ground, you may notice that after a day or two, the leaves begin to turn white. This is not a plant disease, but rather a case of sunburn or windburn on the leaves. If you purchased plants that had been in a greenhouse or if you raised plants in your house, the plants may not be acclimated to being out in the wind or the intense sun. This condition happens often when plants are put into the garden on a day that is sunny and windy.

Given a choice, you always want your plants to be acclimated to being outdoors. If the day is sunny and windy, you should wait until the wind dies down and you should not put those plants out if the temperatures are going to be 80 degrees and higher. If the plants are hardened off by exposure to the sun and wind, windy and hot days may still burn the leaves. As I said earlier in this column, a cloudy and cooler day is the better day to set out new plants.

As I said earlier, once the plants are in the ground, they need to put out a new root system. You can help your plants out by giving them an application of a plant starter fertilizer. This fertilizer comes in a liquid form and is mixed with water. You add the fertilizer to a watering can and add water. You would then use this mixture to water your plants after the plants are in the ground. This solution can be used when planting annuals, perennials, vegetable plants, and trees and shrubs. It is also used when you are potting up your window boxes or your other planters.

You only need to use this solution when you are first planting your plants. If you put your plants in this past weekend, you should still use this fertilizer solution. After the application of this fertilizer solution, you should regularly water and fertilize your plants.

Memorial Day weekend is coming up. For many of you, it will be the weekend to get your plants into the garden.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is www.harborgardens.com. Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to ndn@newburyportnews.com, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.