With the arrival of southern Ontario’s gardening season, here’s what can be done now to prepare

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WATCH ABOVE: Representatives from GardenWorks share their advice for preparing your garden for the upcoming season – Mar 20, 2021

With the arrival of the Easter long weekend, it might be tempting to begin preparing gardens for the upcoming season.

However, southern Ontario residents were warned to be careful to not do too much work in the yard — at least for now.

“It’s a busy time of year right around Easter for gardeners, whether it’s outside getting the beds ready, putting the compost in, as soon as that soil is workable you can kind of get all that done,” Global News chief meteorologist Anthony Farnell said on Friday.

“But just also know there are going to be days below freezing, so frost for the next month at least we’re still expecting the threat of that.”

Read more: The benefits of growing a garden during the COVID-19 crisis

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In the Greater Toronto Area, Farnell said the region is starting to move away from hard overnight freezes. He said while March was the eighth-warmest on record, April will be closer to seasonal and the first half of the month is expected to be drier while heavier rains are expected in the latter half.

Farnell added communities farther away from the Great Lakes are seeing cooler temperatures and residents were encouraged to wait longer before beginning planting.

So what generally can go into the garden now? Farnell said Kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, arugula, and peas are the safer bets.

“It’s early, but those types of plants can now go into the garden. You can still wait a couple of weeks if you want, they’re not going to grow quickly, but I know a lot of people are eager this year to get going,” he said.

READ MORE: What you can do now to prepare for gardening season

Farnell also said flowers like pansies, tulips, and daffodils are generally safe for this time of the season. He also noted trees and shrubs can go in the ground as soon as the week of April 5, so long as the soil has thawed and is workable.

For those looking to plant herbs, vegetables, and berries, Farnell said people should wait until they see consistent daytime highs of 10 C.

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“Stuff like basil, the second it goes to 0 C it turns to mush and brown, so herbs need a little bit more sun and warmth,” he said.

READ MORE: Toronto city staff recommend strategy to protect pollinating insects

If you’re looking to get a jump on those types of crops and haven’t begun planting seeds indoors yet, Farnell added now is the time to get that done.

Farnell had a final encouragement for residents: Don’t rake any leaves or natural debris from the 2020 season. He said people should wait at least another couple of weeks or until temperatures are above 10 C in order to protect pollinating insects that might still be hibernating.

“Bees are critical for gardens and become a lot less numerous with some of the diseases that are going from different colonies, so anything we can do to save them… just wait,” Farnell said.

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