Again, spring has deceived us gardeners. Since the warm weather started so early this year, everyone thought chances of frost was inconceivable, when suddenly it reared its ugly head on April 27th and descended upon our gardens without regards for our tender vegetation. Those of us who sowed cold weather crops directly into the garden in the middle of March or hardened-off our seedlings beforehand weren’t affected, others that neglected to do so did not fare well at all.
Then again, impatient gardeners like me who uncovered the fig tree a couple of weeks ago suffered the same fate, whereas, those that have more sheltered locations or hardier cultivars like Brown Turkey and Celeste had minimal or no damage at all. My white fig tree is meant to be grown in moderate climates and bears two yields, the first harvest “breba crop” grows on the old canes and ripens in July. The regular crop ripens in September and grows on new shoots. Of course the frost only destroyed the first crop, but not removing the covers would have caused mold, which can destroy a plant. So, after nature had her way, half a harvest that yields several hundred figs is not too shabby, plus, sharing is part of gardening.
Despite the wind/frost damage and a frost advisory predicted for Sunday night, I planted my celeriac seedlings that evening. This time I used more caution. After transplanting and watering them with a fish emulsion/seaweed mixture, each plant was covered with a terra cotta pot, and this morning they are bright eyed and bushy tailed.
Why did I go against the grain? To be the master of your garden, at times you have to defy nature and take chances to harvest the maximum it allows. Nature works in the strangest ways, and one needs to be astute to keep pace.
When you think that you have everything under control, another surprise awaits you. My direct seeded tomato seedlings, which I forgot to protect the other night, suffered no damage. Hardening-off is key to success.
Viva la Natura,
Nick Mancini, The Organic Italian