Over these last couple of weeks I’ve been reminded that surviving an Edmonton winter is nothing compared to surviving an Edmonton spring! A week of warm weather that prompts the pulling off of sweaters and putting on of shorts is abruptly terminated by a week of temperatures barely hovering above the necessity of a parka, and I, along with my tomato, tomatillo, pepper, basil, cucumber, and zucchini plants, are all struggling to adapt.
I admit, the plants are having a tougher time hardening-off than I am. Because we have yet to create sweaters for basil plants, some have leaves that are slightly blackened in spots (a sign that temperatures have been too cold for them). Two out of the four lemon cucumbers I started informed me, in no uncertain terms, that they were unhappy by quickly wilting and then, just as quickly, by dying (wimps!). The peppers won’t let me know for a while whether they’ve been affected – if they have, they’ll delay blossoming until they feel they’ve met their heat quotient and, if I’m lucky, push out a few fruits before the temperatures drop again. My heart goes out to the tomatoes and the tomatillos though – they’ve been so eagerly growing, pushing out flowers, clearly anticipating their new life out in the garden (in the newly renovated beds we recently constructed). But they’re weathering the disappointment the best of all of them except maybe the zucchini; they’ve started to open up some exuberant, relentlessly cheerful blossoms, optimistically hoping for, I guess, a winged pollinator to stop by – but it’s too cold for even a house fly.
So the hardening-off process will have to start all over again – when the nightime temperatures don’t fall below 10 deg. C. Usually I start hardening-off my plants by putting them outside in a shaded spot for about four hours when the day time temperature is about 15 deg. C. I gradually extend the time the plants spend outside and, by the second week, when I start leaving them outside overnight, I move them into a sunnier spot during the day.
If only I could toughen myself up in a similar way…please let spring arrive soon!