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Weird spring weather gives local gardeners unique opportunity

Weird spring weather gives local gardeners unique opportunity

The abnormally rainy winter and spring has delayed planting time for most summer plants and has extended the growing season for cooler weather vegetables.


POSTED June 10, 2011 8:55 p.m.

The unusually wet and mild weather is finally giving way to the typically hot and sunny days Turlockers expect in June. But the late start to summer has had a noticeable effect on home gardens, and local gardeners are doing things they have never tried before.

Central Valley temperatures have normally reached the 90s and occasionally the century mark by the first week of June. This year, however, temperatures won’t break 90 degrees until the middle of the month. There has also been much more rain than is normal for the Valley in June.  This has delayed planting time for most summer plants and has extended the growing season for cooler weather vegetables.

“There are a lot of weird things happening this year. I have a feeling it’s not going to be a normal summer either,” said Adria Afferino, marketing and seminars manager for The Greenery nursery and garden shop.

Afferino said that local gardeners can take advantage of the recently cool and wet weather by planting crops that should normally be in the ground by now. Adult tomato plants, eggplant, squash and melon have a good chance of thriving even this late in the planting season.

“You can still plant everything that you normally plant in spring. It is probably too late to plant tomatoes from seed or the tiny six packs, but from a larger pot they will probably do fine,” Afferino said.

The cool weather has also been a boon to gardeners who planted late lettuce, peas and other vegetables that have normally gone to seed by June. Afferino even planted peas from seed a few days ago, just to see what would happen. She wouldn’t recommend anyone following her example, but she said it would make for an interesting experiment.

“Don’t be afraid to kill a plant. Killing a plant is not the end of the world,” Afferino said.

Although the rain is over, at least for now, the unseasonable recent moisture means that many spring time crop diseases are still sticking around. Anne Schellman, host of local TV gardening show “Anne of Green Gardens,” said that powdery mildew has been a big problem for local gardeners. The extended rainy season and cold temperatures have caused the fungi to take hold on vegetable plants and roses.

“I would say leave it alone at this point because the rain is over and the weather has been very warm the past few days. But normally, if the conditions were still wet, it would need to be treated,” Schellman said.

Shellman has a background in horticulture and was a gardening expert for the UC Cooperative Extension. She started her television show, and accompanying blog Anneofgreengardens.com, to help educate local gardeners. She said that the biggest problem with a rainy start to summer, aside from plant diseases, is that improper drainage can lead to vegetables rotting from all of the moisture. Afferino, of The Greenery, said that many types of fungi, rot and disease can be stopped before they spread to other plants.

“Any of our staff can identify a disease and recommend ways to deal with it. Just bring in a fresh clipping,” Afferino said.

The weather forecast for the next 10 days shows perfect conditions for gardening work with temperatures staying steady in the high 80s. A slow start to summer means a delay for most summer fruits and vegetables, but home gardeners can take that opportunity to try something new or squeeze in some last minute spring planting.

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail agoodwin@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.

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