Every year at this time, the urge to get out in the garden and actually do something is STRONG. But here in zone 5, it is too early, right? Not necessarily! Let talk about things you can do and answer some questions that I keep getting asked.
1. Is it too late to plant my tulips and daffodils that I bought in the fall?
I get asked this a lot. The "by the book" answer is: You should have planted them in the fall. But life isn't really by the book is it? Last year at this time, I was 5 days from having my fourth baby and had been very very sick for the entire pregnancy. I did not get all of my tulips and daffodils in the ground like I should have in the fall. In a last ditch effort (and also to try to convince my body to go into labor - it didn't work haha), on a warm February day, we put them in the ground. I was sure they wouldn't bloom but at least they were planted. To my surprise they all did great and bloomed just slightly later than their fall planted brothers! I will say, they were a bit stunted and shorter than the others, but they were blooms I wouldn't have had otherwise. Tip: if your bulbs have been sitting around all winter, make sure they aren't moldy or rotten before planting. They should be firm. If any are squishy, toss them. If there is just a small amount of mold, I have washed mine in bleach/water and then let them dry and sprinkled with cinnamon and the mold didn't return.
Look at my late planted pretties:
2. What seeds should I plant first and is the cold a problem?
There are tons of seeds that actually need cold to germinate! Technically, many of these do better planted in the fall, but you can get away with planting them now too.
Poppies love a bit of cold and freeze - Shirley Poppies, California Poppies, Breadseed Poppies - plant them! Be careful because these little dude require light to germinate so do not bury them!
Bachelor Buttons are very cold hardy and can be planted early spring or in the fall as well. I literally toss mine on top of the soil.
Yarrow - a cool thing to keep in mind - if the plant grows naturally here in our zone, you probably can plant in the fall or early spring without worry about the cold. It does that naturally, after all! Yarrow grows well here and can be tossed on the ground in the fall or early spring.
Hollyhocks - these pretty flowers self seed very easily, so mimicking this by just tossing seeds on the ground in the fall or early spring is just what they want.
A few other easy favorites: Kale, cilantro, arugula. I plant these guys in the fall and early spring and they do not mind the cold at all!
Once the ground is softer and workable, the first things I plant (because they don't do well in the heat) will be:
Peas, ranunculus and anemones, and Iceland Poppies.
Things you should wait on:
Sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, stock, strawflowers, tomatoes, anything that normally is not available until later summer and fall.
Tomorrow is going to be warm! Don't be afraid to get those tulips in the ground and plant some Poppies! ;)