NDSU Extension - Ramsey County


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May 17, 2010 Horticulture Column


This last week I had a doctor’s appointment in Fargo and, of course, there was time to spare both before and after.  In fact they called me on the way down (Hillsboro) that the machine I was to be using broke down, imagine that.  Things like this makes my blood pressures rise and a little irritation also comes into play.  They called back about 10 minutes later saying the coast was clear and continue on with scheduled plans.  Well to make the short of it, we checked out three different greenhouse nurseries.  It is such a wonder time of year with the grass growing wild, trees either budding or getting ready, some flowers have bloomed and others are getting ready to bloom and then one finds plants in these nurseries that have been damaged by frost and wind.  This is to serve as a warning to not get too involved with planting annuals or the very tender garden veggies (tomatoes), just yet.  It is not impossible to still get a killing frost the end of this month.  If you do, please remember to cover those plants.  The other note of interest was the different fruit trees in bloom.  Another reminder to us all is that our fruit trees are not as advanced as those in the southern valley due to the difference in climate conditions.  Frost also affects the bloom set so if you had a fruit tree blooming don’t be surprised to see less fruit next fall. 

Back to the tomatoes, planting leggy or very tall tomatoes will work just fine.  As time moves towards the tomato planting season the nursery plants are also growing and towards the end of the season will get very tall and ragged.  Tomatoes can be planted however deep you would like as the little hairs on the stem of the plant will actually root, so don’t be afraid of tall lanky tomato plants.  I also want to remind gardeners to place either grass clippings or paper around the base of the plant to prevent soil particles being splashed on the leaves.  This will alleviate early blight development.

It is also the time of year for a little stress in our household.  Deb’s ideas of spring planting and location and mine are usually very different.  The thing I do love however is her love of watching plants grow and her thinking process of location.  She has changed a lot since we became city dwellers.  We still have disagreements over types of plants. I have really gone hog wild over variegated hostas.  Of course she is wondering where I am putting all of these hosta’s.

By the way I bought only one plant on our shopping spree as shopping at home keeps our communities viable but occasionally we find something that is not sold locally; usually a perennial that is not zone hardy here and I use it as an annual.  SHOP LOCAL.      


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