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Gardening Q&A with Jeff Bennett of Bennett Nurseries

Tomato plants

Tomato plants

(WHNT) – This isn’t a typical spring by any means.  Cooler temperatures and wet weather have thrown us for a loop as we try to get our gardens growing.

We spoke with Jeff Bennett of Bennett Nurseries in Huntsville on Thursday to get some gardening advice.  We hope this Q&A helps answer questions you might have.

Q: Can people plant yet?

A: I don’t think anyone should wait.  We certainly are having an unusual weather pattern, where it’s wetter than normal, and we get concerned about some of these overnight lows being in the upper 30s and 40s.  But if you wait, that cuts into the selection you have at the nurseries.  Go ahead and plant.  Traditionally, April and May are when you’ll find your best selection at garden centers.

I think people should consider [planting] before summer gets here.  Getting a late May planting, instead of getting into June. The young plants will benefit from getting a head start in mild weather.  So, get out and garden in between the rain.

Q: What if you’ve already planted, and you’ve kept your plants alive, but they haven’t done much yet?  Will they be okay once the ground warms up?

A: Certain plants do need warm weather to thrive. Those plants will certainly get better as it gets warmer.  Certain plants don’t like lots of water – if they’ve gotten a lot, they might need to be replanted (as in, replaced with new plants).  No plants like too much water – for example, peppers and tomatoes.  They don’t like it to be too cool/too wet. They should start showing signs of new growth and darker, new leaves, by the end of the month.  If you don’t notice much of a change in the next two or three weeks, trim the plant back or replace it (with a new plant).

You can also clear up some of these problems by making sure your soil is right to start with.  This will help you overcome potential watering issues.  If your soil drains well, it should also help clear things up.

Q: What are the most common questions you’re getting right now from people who come to Bennett Nurseries?

A: Is it safe to plant my garden, or when do I prune my ‘whatever’.  What kind of soil does this plant take, etc.  A lot of people are buying spring flowers, so people ask about what kind of soil treatment they need.

Q: Is there a plant that will ‘pay off’ with this wild weather we’ve had?

No, not really (as far as veggies or spring annuals).  But cool weather plants are still looking good.  Some people still have pansies in their yard.

If you have other gardening questions, email them to claire.aiello@whnt.com and we’ll work to get an answer for you. Jeff Bennett and his father, George Bennett, give us great advice in our weekly Garden Tips that air every Thursday on WHNT News 19 at 5:00 p.m.  See recent segments here.