About three weeks ago, when I first started advising that it was time to get busy with the "early green-up" part of my fertilization schedule, I kept getting the follow-up question, "So does that mean we aren't going to have any freezing weather in February or March?"
I had no idea. And, obviously, neither did most weather prognosticators, since we enjoyed a rather warmer-than-normal January and February. My point was that the soil was warm enough. And even if we did get a hint of 32-degree weather, that wouldn't be enough to adversely affect the greening-up action. I stand by that, despite the mid to high 30s projected for this weekend.
But people become hysterical over the slightest hint of a freeze this close to March 1. My emails have proved that with queries such as, "OMG Randy ... I just put out the Sweet Green, and now they say it's going to freeze! What's going to happen, and what do I need to do?" (From Rachel in Bellaire.)
First, don't panic! One or two nights in the 30s will have little if any effect for anyone who followed my fertilization schedule recommendations over the past three weeks. Second, if you didn't do anything, you also have no need to panic. Just wait till the highs get back in the 70s again — that'll be next week — and then follow the schedule. Remember too, that even if there is a frost in the northern and western 'burbs, the singed tips of grass have to be mowed anyway.
However, if you are one of the industrious vegetable garden "cheaters," you should be prepared to cover or otherwise protect your plantings this weekend. (Planting veggies before March 15 is "cheating," and that's a compliment not a criticism.) I personally don't think it's going to "freeze" as the local TV weather folks hinted earlier this week. They predicted a low of 32 for Houston Saturday and Sunday nights. I don't think this is anything to cause panic for two reasons. First, the weather websites I trust most predict Houston lows at only 39, and even into the 40s by Sunday night. Second, you have to understand, as I have for years, that local weather forecasters are encouraged to over-project with what I've termed "scare tactics" to bait you into watching. That's especially true for "sweeps," the ratings period at the end of February.
But to be frank, when it comes to veggies it doesn't matter if it's 42 or 32 ... they need to be protected, period. The colder it gets, the more protection they will likely need. Just using a frost cover (ABOVE RIGHT) or freeze blanket (BELOW LEFT) may not be enough if we are near freezing. But frost cover type protecting is ample if our lows are 40 and above.
So in summation, no matter what the lows are going to be, please don't worry about it with regard to fertilization. Just don't do any fertilizing on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. And if we dip into the low 40s or high 30s, we need to protect all things veggie and, in some cases, herbs.
Back to my TV weather "conspiracy theory" idea above. I think this week's weather prognosticating could be a good case study of whether local forecasters purposely predict lower temperatures for ratings or news-generating purposes. Let's see if the predicted lows for this weekend don't creep up a degree or two over the next two nights. I predict the number will be up to 38 by Friday morning, not 32 as the weather dudes and dude-ettes have it as I write this article on Tuesday evening. Then, Saturday morning you can come discuss it with me in person when we'll be broadcasting live from The Woodlands Home & Garden Show.
If I'm right, and the low temperatures in Houston early Saturday morning are only 38-40 degrees, anyone who comes by our broadcast table in the foyer of the Waterway Marriott Convention Center on Lake Robbins Drive and confirms my conspiracy theory with cascades of kudos, will likely earn a free gardening product. It will be something that I'd normally save for the gardening seminar that's part of The Woodlands Home & Garden Show. So, you don't even have to go inside the show just to say hi, get a book, or jump on my "conspiracy theory" bandwagon. The doors for the garden show open at 9 a.m. but you can stop by and see me as early as 8.
About that seminar: You will have to buy a show admission to attend it, but as always, you can get discount show tickets at their website. The show is in its 11th year, and I think this is actually the tenth year we have broadcast from the event.
Like last weekend, our friends at Soil Menders are bringing plenty of free products, like their Rose Food, their Tomato & Vegetable Food, and other bagged products. You could get some just for coming to the seminar and asking a question or two. You can also get your hands on free goodies like weed killers or fungicides by purchasing a copy of my book, "1001 GardenLine Questions." At the risk of sounding too "sales pitchy," this is likely the last spring home and garden show ever where the book will be available. This is definitely the final garden show of the season that we'll be broadcasting from, but it's a distinct possibility that the book will be out of print by this Christmas. So, get yours Saturday!
I'll be there the better part of nine hours on Saturday, and here's my schedule:
- GardenLine Live Broadcast: 6-10 a.m. in foyer of the Convention Center
- Book signing and Q&A at broadcast table in foyer: 10-10:30 a.m.
- GardenLine Seminar (where I always say things I would never say on the air): 10:30-11:30 a.m.
- Book Signing: 11:30 a.m.-noon.
- Lunch with listeners chosen by the Woodlands show: noon-1 p.m.
- Book signing and Q&A: 1-2:30 p.m.