Gardeners brace for days of wintry weather

Published: May. 9, 2020 at 9:28 PM CDT
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Much of Wisconsin is expecting cold temperatures in mid-May, and that could mean bad news for gardeners, especially as nighttime temperatures drop near freezing.

For some seasoned gardeners, like Holly and Joey Baird, they have learned how to work around Wisconsin weather.

"Early May, you always have to pay attention to the weather and plan ahead," Holly said.

Even with cold temperatures up ahead, the couple has started some planting in their vegetable garden.

"We've got peas that we've planted, carrots, radishes, leeks and onions," Holly said.

Holly explained that those plants are better suited to withstand colder temperatures. However, the couple has learned to wait until at least Memorial Day to plant summer crops. Joey said they have even waited until June.

"Things like tomatoes and peppers, they really don't like it when it's cold out," explained Josh Smith, vice president of Kopke's Greenhouse.

Smith said he has seen a lot more first-time gardeners this year trying out vegetables.

Smith said the upcoming frost and cold temperatures could be dangerous; many plants do not do well below 50 degrees.

"If those plants got frozen and they look like they're dead, they probably are," he said.

Smith recommends people stick to plants that are suited for colder weather, like lettuce, but if people have already planted warm weather crops, they can still protect the garden.

"We recommend that you cover things with either some fabric that provides some sort of air gap between the cover itself and the plants," Smith said.

The Bairds also offered some advice for first-time gardeners: don't worry even if things do not go as planned.

"It's definitely a journey, you're not going to have 100 percent success the first year or even the 15th year," Holly said.

The Bairds and Smith said gardeners need to keep an eye on the weather. The Bairds explained that the long-term forecast has to be consistently warm before it is safe to plant those summer crops.