Microclimates exist within our yards

Published on June 14, 2013
Many colourful annuals await planting at a local greenhouse.Submitted

The provincial government has proclaimed the first week of June each year as gardening week in Nova Scotia.

This is an initiative of the Nova Scotia Association of Garden Clubs in co-operation with Greenhouse Nova Scotia, Landscape Nova Scotia and the Buy Local movement to recognize food and plants grown locally, to support farmers’ markets and local farms and showcase the work of garden clubs and homeowners in their communities.

Next year we can expect to see special events planned to celebrate gardening week and I will keep you informed of what’s planned.




As we move into June many people wonder if it is now safe to plant those tender annuals and vegetables. The last spring frost is the determining factor for the most part and it varies from year to year. As the full moon (and sometimes the new moon) tends to bring cooler night-time temperatures, many people delay their planting until after the full moon in May or the more cautious wait until after the full moon in June.

If this occurs late in June not enough time remains to allow some plants to reach maturity before our first fall frost. Last year our spring was early and warm and I planted pumpkins around May 20 without any mishaps. They grew, flourished and I had more pumpkins than I could use. 

This year spring was later and cold and I planted my pumpkins on June 2. It will be at least a week or 10 days before they germinate so this will take us to the middle of the month and hopefully they will be safe from frost at that point.

Microclimates exist within our yards that might allow us to safely plant before the last spring frost. Plantings close to buildings and bodies of water are usually safe. Low-lying areas are not and tend to continue to experience frost later in the spring and earlier in the fall.

And some plants are simply frost tolerant – carrots, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli – while others like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and pumpkins are not.

I understand that the Public Gardens in Halifax were beginning to plant annual bedding plants last week, but where I live in Great Village I wouldn’t feel confident in doing so much before June 10. It really is a bit of a judgment call each year and it’s not unheard of for a late June frost to completely wipe out tender vegetables. 

The beauty of annuals in planters is that they can be tucked safely inside a garage or shed when temperatures dip and small beds can always be covered with plastic or newspaper on chilly nights.

I do know that summer will come and go very quickly so watch the nighttime temperatures, protect plants that may need it and follow the advice of the folks at your local garden centre if you’re uncertain.

Patti Sharpe is a member of the Great Village Garden Club and the Nova Scotia Association of Garden Clubs. She lives in Great Village.