Planting in unpredictable weather

We’ve had a bit of a chilly spell here in Cornwall, with strong winds too (the squash plant pictured here was the victim of a late frost!). It’s not ideal for planting out tender crops like squash, tomatoes, beans and so on, so if your plants arrive whilst it’s still a little unpredictable then read these top tips…

Firstly, lets clarify which plants are at most risk:

  • Cucumbers, squash & courgettes (not good with frost/cold)
  • Tomatoes, aubergine, pepper & chillies (if they go in a greenhouse they’ll be ok, but they won’t like being outside in the cold!)
  • Beans & peas (they won’t enjoy strong, cold winds)
  • Sweetcorn (prefers warmer weather)

Now, here are a few tricks to keep them safe from nasty weather…

  1. Temporarily plant vulnerable outdoor crops in grow bags – simply cut the top off a grow bag or bag of compost, and loosely plant groups of vulnerable veg – see our video for instructions. It’s best to keep them under cover (ideally in a porch or greenhouse, or a sheltered corner of the garden if that’s not possible).
  2. Drape horticultural fleece over rows of planted crops – this will keep them a bit sheltered from frost and wind. They’ll still have room to grow underneath the fleece, and sunlight and rainwater will get through the fleece. Be sure to secure it down at the corners and sides as it blows away easily.
  3. Pot on into bigger pots until the weather is more consistently warm. If you have some spare pots lying around, then just plant your more vulnerable seedlings in these and keep them somewhere sheltered until the weather warms up properly.
  4. Make cloche tunnels – you can fairly quickly make a makeshift greenhouse by using old hosepipe, some pieces of bamboo and some clear plastic. See below.
  5. Use old plastic bottles to make individual cloches – it’s good way to make a mini greenhouse for just a few individual plants. See below.