Protecting your blooms against the frost

With the unusually warm March we saw, a lot of people started planting outside earlier than normal.

But now gardeners are on high alert, facing a freeze warning for the northern parts of our viewing areas and a frost advisory for the south overnight.

Spring officially started on March 20th but for most of the country the third month of the year felt like summer.

National records were broken.

Temperatures in the lower 48 states were 8.6 degrees above normal for March, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Garden centers across Mid-Missouri, like at Longfellows have been busy with eager planters.

"It has been much busier than normal and it has been very exciting,h Longfellow Garden Center's owner Alice Longfellow said. gAll of the trees are leafing out and all of the flowering plants are all coming on very quickly. So people are responding it seems to be about a month and a half early."

But we must remember, it's only April and with the threat of frost, many of us are left wondering, did we plant too early?

Longfellow said if you've already planted things like tomatoes, peppers, impatiens and begonias then the answer is yes, it was too early.

But don't fret,she said the frost shouldn't harm your blooms if you take the right precautions.

Longfellow suggested you take all of your plants you can and put them inside, like all of the pots you have, and if at all possible, put them in a greenhouse like this one.

But if they must stay outdoors Longfellow has a solution.

"People can take sheets, blankets or burlap, things that are breathable and cover those plants over tonight after the sun goes down and make sure you uncover them before the sun gets too high in the sky," Longfellow said.

And just in case you forget to cover your plants the night of a frost, go outside the next morning and water them before the sun comes up.

"They call it washing off the frost, what it does, is it raises the temperature of the plants surface because the water coming out of the hose is about 54 degrees and that's going to raise the temperature so that it's less likely to have frost damage," Longfellow said.

But since the ground is so warm, Longfellow said we might not see much frost because the radiation of the earth may keep everything warmer than we had anticipated.

Longfellow recommended people hold off on planting most things until mid April, but said there are a few things she always says you should wait until at least the first of may to plant, things like tomatoes, peppers, vine crops, and impatiens and begonias, which she says aren't tolerant of frost.