We are looking ahead at some very warm weather, according to the forecasts of the last few days. Spring may actually have sprung! However, UGA has published information reminding all us gardeners that the future - especially with regard to the weather - is uncertain.
The first cautionary note in the April 2 issue of the Georgia FACES newsletter is this one: "The swings in temperature are typical of a neutral pattern with no El Niño or La Niña present in the Pacific Ocean. Producers should keep in mind that in a neutral year, the chance for additional cold periods and a late frost are greater than usual. So planting should be undertaken with caution."
And that note is accompanied by this reminder: "Once the soil temperatures warm up and the chance of frost is past, there should be plenty of soil moisture available to allow for good germination. However, fungal diseases may be a concern, and water-breeding pests — like mosquitoes — are also likely to be more plentiful this year, as there is ample habitat for them to develop."
I hadn't known that bit about the greater chance for a late freeze when there is no El Niño or La Niña present in the Pacific Ocean. However, I am all-too familiar with the increased odds of fungal diseases in wet weather. It's been relatively cool and damp in the last couple of months, which means that this is likely to be a "good year" for Verticillium Wilt. With that in mind, I will be keeping my most susceptible tomatoes in pots for a while longer.
So far, I have been mostly getting-ready-to-plant rather than actually planting my summer veggies. I did put in a patch of bush bean seeds, but the rest of my time has been spent in getting the garden ready. It is VERY hard to wait on the planting, and I have some "seedlings" that are getting way beyond the seedling stage and need to be in the ground, but I am going to wait until later this week, rechecking the forecast daily, before I trust that the weather has settled into enough warmth for beginning to plant my tomatoes, peppers, and other summer crops.
When the planting really begins, it will be with seeds, not transplants. Seeds could take as long as a week to germinate, making it more likely that they wouldn't even have made it above ground if a late frost strikes, and if they are up, they will be easier to cover than large plants.