By Bobbie Whitehead
Beginning the vegetable garden early can have positive or disastrous results, especially when unseasonably warm temperatures give a false sense of spring time.
Some regions now have experienced such warmer temperatures, which have many growers wanting to head to the garden, roll up their sleeves and plant.
Though vegetable experts advise against planting too early, gardeners can plant certain crops early despite the chances of a late spring frost.
Some of these frost-tolerant vegetables include lettuce, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, onions, asparagus, kale, and potatoes, among a number of others, according to the University of Illinois Extension article “Watch Your Garden Grow.”
And gardeners who can’t wait to begin to plant some of the more sensitive crops like tomatoes, beans or squash can use covers for protection should a frost or an abrupt drop in temperatures occurs.
For example, plastic accordion-style row covers with metal wires for securing to the ground can work well, and if the temperatures heat up, the covers can be removed or the curtain flaps on the ends of the covers can be raised to allow air circulation.
Other covers include lightweight blankets, some with wire frames, that allow sunlight and water through – some light covers come in white or green and do protect young plants from unexpected frost. Since these frost covers come in various sizes, gardeners can cut them to the appropriate row size.
Gardeners might want to use individual plant covers, homemade or purchased, often called cloches. These covers, sometimes made of glass, allow for the protection of a single young plant. Those who want to create their own can use items such as empty 32-ounce, or larger, soda containers, large clay pots or other materials that keep the heat in and frost out.
Whatever cover gardeners may choose to use to protect young seedlings, they will want to check on the plants frequently during this sensitive time of the year.