BDN speaks with Garland for article on planting before last frost

The Bangor Daily News spoke with Kate Garland, a horticultural professional with University of Maine Cooperative Extension, for an article about what to plant before the last frost of winter. Some cold-hardy plants, including carrots, corn, parsnips, spinach, turnips, peas, onions, lettuce and seed potatoes, can survive a light or moderate frost if they have been planted before winter is over, according to the article. And some seedlings, like broccoli, beets, cabbage, cauliflower and kale, can be started indoors and “hardened off,” or brought outside during the day to allow the seedlings to adjust before transplanting. “You’re gradually exposing them to lower temperatures, increased air flow and increased light. Even a week is helpful,” said Garland. When purchasing seedlings from a nursery, it’s a good idea to ask if they have been hardened off, according to Garland. And some perennial crops can be planted before the last frost, as well. “Things like asparagus and rhubarb and strawberries, and woody plants like blueberries, raspberries and fruit trees do better if they’re planted a little bit early,” said Garland. Resources to calculate your area’s frost-free date include the local Cooperative Extension, National Gardening Association, and Dave’s Garden, but Garland advises caution and checking current weather patterns and projected forecast before planting. “Curveballs late in the season are common. It’s really important to look at that 10-day forecast before you plant,” Garland said. “I’ve gotten my heart broken before.” And while there are many options for planting before the last frost, Garland said there should be no pressure. “You can plant late and still get a great yield from your garden. Don’t feel rushed,” she said.