The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on March 28, 1998 · Page 58
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 58

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Saturday, March 28, 1998
Page 58
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ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT TO THE SALINA JOURNAL SPRING 1998 • HOMES • 15 Unpredictable Spring Weather Affects Planting Dates, Risks Kathleen Ward Extension Communications Specialist MANHATTAN-Gardeners are impatient to get things growing almost as soon as their mail order catalogs arrive in midwinter. They're rarely willing to wait much past their area's average frost-free date. "The problem is, an atypical factor is influencing this year's weather," warned Ward Upharn, K-State Research and Extension horticulturist. "The 1997-98 El Nino has been unusually strong. It came unusually early and has kept our winter temperatures unusually mild. But the Jet Stream— which shifts all the time has determined whether Kansas has seen dry weather or received rain, snow and ice. And the unpredictability is likely to continue. "Besides, a frost-free date is an average. So, an area has experienced frost after that date about half the time since meteorologists started keeping records. That's why you increase your odds for not having frost by 10 percent for every three to four days you delay after the average frost date." Experienced gardeners know, however, that delaying planting in any year until all danger of frost has passed can seriously limit the Kansas growing season. "For example, some annual vegetables won't produce after our weather turns hot," Upham said. "If these crops require much time to mature, we have to plant early to have any hopes of a harvest." One solution for this dilemma is to start seeds indoors under close fluorescent lighting in a cool (60 to 65 degrees F) room. "That's probably the best idea for those who don't want to risk losing a plant. I know I'd start indoors if 1 were using expensive seed or trying an unusual variety," the horticulturist said. Another approach is to plant or transplant into ground covered by black plastic. On bright sunny days, this covering can raise soil temperatures by 5 to 7 degrees F. "You'll need to place the plastic's edges in a trench and weight them down with soil, to keep the covering from blowing away," Upham said. Organic mulch can't do the same job, unless it's very coarse (e.g., straw) and/or removed every morning. During daytime, organic mulch tends to insulate soil and delay warming. Another solution is the most common—and most uncertain—route to handling freeze risks. "Gardeners who take this last approach simply plant as usual. Then they prepare for cold weather. They may have hot caps or row covers in place. They may collect milk cartons, newspapers, sheets or old blankets to use in covering tender plants when a freeze is predicted," Upham said. "In every case, the important thing is to get the cover in place in time to hold daytime heat near the plants. "The only easy-access cover that hurts more than it helps is metal containers. Tin cans provide wind protection. But they rapidly transfer heat from the ground to the air." It's Back To Pool Time at Sunflower Pool & Spa : Above Ground Pools BAfflS 1 Health Mate Health Sauna | A Personal invitation Just For You. stop By Our Store And Relax in The Latest in Radiant Heat Therapy. Take A Few Minutes To Enjoy The Soothing Benefits Of The Health Mate Health Sauna. No Special Wiring Necessary Declare your independence from stress and relax in your new Dream Line above ground swimming pool. Choose from Salina's most complete selection of above ground swimming pools. BoGuard Pool&Spa Products Spa & Gazebo Packages Cal Spa* Fiesta, 7' Spa and Hawaiian Lattice Gazebo Include*! t 10 Jets • Lounger • Full Five Tear Warranty • Gazebo with metal roof • Step* And Planter* Plus Much, Much More Pre-Season Sale On All Patio Furniture Stoop Early & Save! @flwdf/&u>t<<eeiA Lifetime warranty, stainless steel cooking grid, no worry about flare-ups, Rotis models available, natural gas or propane. o ' & SPA, Inc. MON.-FRI. 8:30 AM-fc PM • SATURDAY 10:00-4:00 IliS E. Crawford, Salina * 8*1-751* or l-8oo-75O-77*7 VV> , V . « t t * n, t. •

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