With abnormally warm May weather, many local gardeners are eager to start planting.  

Annette Fast is an avid gardener and a long-time member of the Steinbach and Area Garden Club. She notes some local gardeners have already jumped the gun. 

“The rule of thumb is that the last frost is usually, for sure by the first week in June you should be able to plant. This year, as we know, we have been getting some really high temperatures, so I planted my plants out there already, I don’t know if that is a mistake or not. I am taking a big chance and making sure they are close to the house in case there is some frost and in case I need to cover them.” 

Fast says gardeners are feeling quite confident in the weather this May adding, “You need a really drastic change in weather for the frost to come but that is known to happen in Manitoba.” 

In addition, Fast says those planting seeds for their vegetable gardens don’t need to worry as the ground will insulate the seeds from any light frost that might occur. 

With the growing season now underway, Fast has a few tips for gardeners. She notes it is key to encourage good root strength early on. 

“When you go to the greenhouse and there are these beautiful blooms all over, I like to take those blooms off because then it encourages the energy to go down into the roots rather than going right into the bloom. People think ‘You cut those beautiful blooms off?!’ Yeah, because it encourages the root system.” 

Similarly, Fast notes when planting flowers and vegetables in pots she encourages using a peat moss and bone meal base as well as coconut fibre. She says “I just find that it adds a little bit of fluffiness to the ground in the pots and that makes your plants root out faster and look for the water at the bottom of your pots.” 

All of these products can be purchased at local garden centres.  

Fast says this is an important time of year when it comes to perennial maintenance as well. 

“For the perennials, this is the time that you can also split them and double your perennials. Just as they are starting to peek up, like the hostas and the Sedums, you can separate those and get a whole lot of other perennials if you’d like. It is very good for the plant to do that because sometimes they get so root-bound that they can’t grow anymore. If you give them a little bit more space, then they will thrive.” 

If you are looking for some flower ideas, Fast says there are some great trends right now. 

“Calibrachoas are a beautiful little plant if you want a bloom all summer long and so are the non-stop begonias. They need a little bit of shade, but they will just flourish for you all summer long. The marigolds of course are really nice. If you have a really hot spot, lantana is a beautiful plant that will flower all summer long. Those are a few of my favourites.” 

Fast wishes gardeners throughout the Southeast all the best and a great growing season.