‘They’re pretty tough’: From plants to plows, what it takes to prepare for a spring snowstorm
MADISON, Wis. — With winter gear put away and some plants already put in the ground, there’s more to consider as a spring snowstorm approaches.
“I think we all probably expected to be out playing outside this weekend,” said Joe Muellenberg, horticulture program coordinator at Dane County’s University of Wisconsin Extension. “Instead, we’re going to be rushing to protect our plants and worrying about them.”
As we prepare to tough out a wintry day in late April, it helps to remember that Wisconsin plants and people have a lot in common.
“All of us here in Wisconsin forget how tough and resilient our plants really are,” Muellenberg said. “If fruit trees and all of our plants didn’t survive in these erratic conditions, we wouldn’t be planting them.”
Muellenberg said most plants already in the ground, including vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and radishes, are hardy and should be able to withstand the snow and cold. Foods such as tomatoes, peppers, squashes and melons shouldn’t be planted until mid to late May when the threat of frost is gone.
With temperatures approaching a hard frost at 25 degrees, Muellenberg said it could be worth it to water or cover some house plants to fend off the cold.
“Hardy flowering bulbs, definitely the plant will be just fine,” he said. “However, some of your flowers on your smaller kinds of bushes and your bulbs are going to possibly be affected, especially if they’re on northern sides of your houses where temperatures remain colder for longer periods.”
To cover plants, Muellenberg recommends using garden fabric or a sheet, and propping it up so it doesn’t do any damage. Staples or bricks can help stake the covers in the ground.
Fully planted in spring time work are landscapers at Barnes.
“We’re fully involved with the summer work now,” manager Mike Wenkman said. “Mowing, pruning, mulching, spring cleanup and all that stuff. Now we get to transition perhaps back to snow.”
The landscaping company had already put away its snowplows.
“We had pretty much packed them away thinking they were done,” Wenkman said.
But Barnes workers are ready to go again, with plows back on the trucks, because in Wisconsin they know you have to be prepared for anything.
“This is part of living here, and it’s just something you have to do. If it snows, we move it,” Wenkman said, adding that it’s a blessing the storm is coming through on a weekend, and that workers are ready to plow lots if snow sticks, especially those of businesses open Sunday.
“We’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years,” Wenkman said. “We’re pretty used to it.”
Used to it or not, Muellenberg has some final advice for your plants, also applicable to us people.
“They’re pretty tough,” Muellenberg said. “They’ve been living here for a while and we should give them a lot of credit for being here this long, but still give them a little TLC to get them past these crazy last winter moments we’re having this year.”
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