Frost-free date tips from Chalet Nursery

May 15, 2013 4:31:14 AM PDT
On this frost-free date for the Chicago area, gardening expert Jennifer Brennan of Chalet Nursery shares some tips.

Frost Free Date: May 15 officially, but remember this is the average date, so there is still a chance to get below freezing. Traditionally the safe date to plant the warm season annuals and vegetables outside

Grafted tomatoes: the plants are grafted onto the roots of a wild tomato that is resistant to the root diseases that haunt our regular garden types. Most of the popular hybrids and heirloom varieties are available as grafted plants. This process improves the vigor of the plants also, so the production is doubled! If planted in containers, the smallest size needs to be 15 gallons.

Dwarf Tomatoes:
- Little Sun Yellow - determinate, 2 ounce yellow fruit, 10" container, grows 10" x 14"
- Sweet N Neat Cherry Red - small ¾ -1 ounce cherry size, 48 days, compact determinate, 1plant/10" container

Impatiens Downy Mildew - (IDM) the disease that attacks our standard bedding Impatiens (Impatiens x walleriana). It is a water mold rather than a fungus, so the control products are limited. And the plants must be sprayed weekly and/or every time it rains. There are 2 types of symptoms: if the plants get planted and grow to full size and flowering, the spore gets into the leaves when they are wet. Within 5 days, the leaves drop off and stems are left looking like sticks. The leaves fall into the soil where the disease stays for up to 5-10 years. If young plants are planted in contaminated soil, they stay stunted with yellow leaves and never produce flowers.

It is advised to NOT plant regular Impatiens, but New Guinea Impatiens are not effected. There are many great substitutes for Impatiens. Chalet has a wonderful handout with full color photos of Begonias, Torenias, Coleus, etc.

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