Saskatoon expert offers gardening tips during unreliable weather

Customer looks at plants at Dutch Growers Garden Centre in Saskatoon. Emily-May Simmonds

May long weekend is usually a high time for gardening, but this year, it’s as if spring forgot to visit Saskatchewan, with temperatures going as low as 3 C in Regina and 5 C in Saskatoon on Friday along with some flurries.

A gardening expert in Saskatoon is offering advice on how to plant your spring flowers and vegetables as the growing season arrives.

Jill Van Duyvendyk, owner of Dutch Grows Garden, said the weather is still a little chilly to put plants in the ground. She says plants in pots should be set out during the day and put back indoors for the night so that they get used to the climate.

Read more: May long weekend brings snow instead of sun in Saskatchewan

“We wanna wait until nighttime temperature sits at 5 C, and for some tropical plants, around 10 C,” Duyvendyk said.

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She said the advice is especially important for all the new gardeners and vegetable growers who picked up the practice since the beginning of the COVD-19 pandemic.

Dutch Growers Garden Centre in Saskatoon. Emily-May Simmonds

While the weather hasn’t co-operated for planting seedlings, she says people can still plant seeds, like corn, peas and potatoes.

“You can get them in the ground now and then your bedding plant varieties that already have nice lush leaves, you want to wait until it gets to 5 C nighttime.”

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Duyvendyk said that for some new gardeners who might not be used to this climate and fluctuating temperatures, waiting for that nighttime temperature to rise is important because if there is a hard frost, they will have to start all over again. She said those who don’t want to wait could choose to cover their plants at night instead.

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“Making sure that the temperature is warm enough so that that frost doesn’t hit your plants at night, or you can get a frost blanket and cover your plants and that will give you success.”

Dutch Growers Garden Centre in Saskatoon. Emily-May Simmonds

She said the best tools for success in gardening are fertilizers and light, and when plants get that naturally in the outdoors it’s even better.

“Planting and gardening are very therapeutic. We can get out, we can be active in our yard and get something so rewarding, whether it’s the color or enjoying some food. I have kids and getting them to eat vegetables is difficult sometimes but when they see that potato being pulled out of the ground, they’re like ‘I wanna eat a potato now.'”

Read more: Sticker Shock: Navigating the increasing food costs

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Duyvendyk said food security and rising produce prices have made people get more into planting their own gardens. Instead of buying grocery store strawberries, she said people are now buying a plant and have strawberries all summer long.

“The biggest thing is that there’s lots of resources. People can be searching for different resources, (people) can watch their zone, so make sure you choose plants that are hearty to your zone. We are zone 2-3. Make sure you chose plants that are hardy and tough for saskatchewan.”

Dutch Grows Garden is open all year round, they also do Christmas trees in addition to tropical and spring plants but their peak season is May 1 to June 15.

Dutch Growers Garden Centre in Saskatoon. Emily-May Simmonds

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