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To plant or not to plant? Gardening tips for May long weekend

May long weekend is finally here, and with the extra time off you may be getting the itch to head out to your garden and plant. However, the old debate whether you should plant now, or wait, is still ever-present.

According to historical from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) the average mean temperature on the Monday of the long weekend over the past 10 years (in Winnipeg) has been around 13.5 Celsius – usually making it a suitable time for some garden planting.

Only four out of the last 10 holiday Mondays have experienced precipitation – with 2021 being the most recent year with 2.8 millimetres.

However, with the city dealing with lots of rain lately, and even contending with an unusually strong hail storm this past Thursday, the recent weather may make you pause.

Carla Hrycyna, the president and co-owner of St. Mary’s Nursery and Garden Centre, says this spring’s rain has been beneficial.

“May long weekend is traditionally the time that we want to be out in our garden and I think this season it may be the time that we can actually get growing. The ground is thawed out beautifully, and the rain has helped to go with that, so if we can get into our gardens and start moving some things around like getting some planting, I think it grow time. Just be cautious, we always watch about the weather. But I think this season, I think it’s good to grow,” said Hrycyna.

Another school of thought for gardeners is to hold off planting until after the full moon.

Plants at St. Mary’s Nursey and Garden Centre on May 17, 2024 (CTV News/Jamie Dowsett)

“Well, traditionally too, I know even my baba used to say yes, never (plant) until the first full moon, but those who are a little bit more adventurous in gardening will probably get some of their crops in earlier,” said Hrycyna. “If the weather does give us those cooler days, they are prepared to do a little bit of covering up on things – so two trains of thought.”

Environment Canada is predicting temperatures ranging from 14 C to 18 C this weekend. Hrycyna said there are a variety of plants that can handle the range in temperature.

“Traditionally there are crops that can go in the ground, snapdragon, some marigolds, and geraniums. There are certain crops that can take those cooler temperatures. If you’re not as adventurous as getting in your impatiens – maybe hold off those that are maybe a little more temperamental with cooler temperatures,” said Hrycyna.

If you’re ready to take the plunge and get growing, Hrycyna said you’ve got options.

“If you’re really wanting to do some planting, trees, shrubs….Or some of your garden plants like potatoes, cool crops, cabbages, kales, those can all go in the garden a little bit sooner. They like the nighttime cooler temperatures.”

Flowers at St. Mary’s Nursey and Garden Centre on May 17, 2024 (CTV News/Jamie Dowsett)

If the weather does take a turn for the worse though – Hrycyna says don’t panic.

“If we have strong winds or rains, the plants themselves will bounce back up,” she said. “If you have exceptionally large hail and your stems are broken, there are different categories you can do with it. Of course, if you have one plant and have very large hail and it breaks its stem on there – there is a potential for a lot of plants to have regrowth. And if you had something that occurred on a plant, and it had a little bit of outer breakages, just remember what we go through in the gardening world where we pinch back a lot of our items, our annuals, our trees, our shrubs. We give them a little pinching back and that encourages further branching below and I always say – more branches, more flowers.”

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