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It's Not Too Late to Plant!
by John Harmon
June 15, 2003


If you thought that this has been an unusual and cold spring you would be right. Bill Miller at Client Services, Yukon and Northern BC, Meteorological Service of Canada, Pacific & Yukon Region in Whitehorse summed it up this way. "May was not an especially nice month this year in the Yukon. Most areas except those snuggled right up to the St. Elias range and Old Crow recorded below normal temperatures". Most of the Yukon set multiple record daily low temperatures during May.

New daily minimum temperature records were set in Whitehorse on the 2,16,17 and 28th of May breaking records set in 1961, 1988, 1975 and 1968 respectively. The low of -11.8C on the 2nd was the second coldest day in May ever recorded in Whitehorse. The 7th tied a record low set in 1949. Bill had one more observation to make: "With cool temperatures dominating the weather it was not a year to try and sneak out your bedding plants early". Bill is correct!

Don't think it's too late to plant now. As a matter of fact plants set out this week will eventually do better than those set out two weeks ago. I've been waiting until the first week in June to plant out for years and even another week when we have a cold spring like this year. Your plants will get a great start now that summer has struck with a vengeance as long as they get enough moisture. They will not have to deal with the colder temperatures of just a couple of weeks ago and will be able to take off unhindered by the stunting effects of the cold nights. It's also not too late to plant seeds in the garden. Things like Swiss Chard and even some varieties of carrots and many other greens and veggies can be sown now and you will still get a good crop.

As far as my own planting went I finally got my field tilled just 10 days ago. I went out and fired up my old tractor that had been sitting out in the field since last fall. While checking it out before starting it up I found a bird's nest nestled nicely under the fuel tank between hydraulic lines and pumps on top of the engine. I removed it without much thought and did my tilling. Afterwards I parked the tractor behind the house at least 100 yards away from where it had resided over the winter. Just a few days later I went to get the tractor to till up my garden. As I walked up I discovered the bird had re-built the nest in exactly the same spot even though the tractor had moved.

Once again I removed the nest while marveling at the determination of whatever bird had decided my old Case tractor was the perfect summer home. I did my tilling and left the tractor over by the garden nowhere near the first two parking spots. A couple of days ago while checking the garden I saw a bird fly out from the engine of the tractor. Checking it out I discovered the nest was re-built once again and this time had two beautiful blue robin's eggs in it. I have to give this robin credit for tenacity. She refused to give up her choice for a nest even after I had removed two. Since the tilling is done for the spring I decided this time to let her have the tractor. I'm quite sure the folks at Case never intended the Case 500 tractor to be used as a platform for bird's nests but at least one robin thinks it's perfect enough to go to great lengths to claim her nesting spot.

Now that everything is tilled despite the nest building I'll be able to get my own garden planted even though I have my doubts about getting any rain to help it along this summer. It's been a weird spring and it's not looking good for the rest of our short season but being an optimist is part of being a gardener and I'll be planting anyway.



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