Weathering the weather

MARSHALL – It’s no secret people are fed up with the cold and snow still hanging around Minnesota. And when you’re trying to plan a garden, it gets even more frustrating.

“Everyone’s itching to get out and get started,” said Therese Van Nevel of the Garvin Nursery.

Although customers are looking at spring plants, Van Nevel and other area nursery managers said this week that frosty temperatures are making people wait before they buy.

“We’ve seen a lot of people out looking,” especially when temperatures went into the 70s a couple of weeks ago, said Jason Farber, manager at Greenwood Nursery’s Marshall location.

But overall conditions haven’t been ideal for gardening.

“Obviously you can’t plant when there’s snow on the ground, and then the soil has to be warm enough to work with,” Farber said.

At the Country Side Nursery in Lake Benton, “People are mostly looking. They’re not ready to buy,” said Penny Krause.

However, nursery managers said it doesn’t mean the spring planting season will be a bust.

“There’s just going to be a big backup,” Jason Farber said. “We’re probably going to end up cramming a month-and-a-half to two months of sales in three or four weeks.”

Meanwhile, nursery managers said it will be more challenging to manage their inventory. Nurseries usually begin raising seedlings in early spring in order to have plants ready to purchase around April and May.

“It puts everyone behind schedule,” said Greenwood owner Jeff Farber said of this spring’s weather. He said staff at Greenwood’s growing location in Tracy will have to carefully manage their crops to deal with the setback, but it shouldn’t be a big problem. “With some plants, you just do a lot of pinching and trimming,” he said.

Cold nights and the possibility of frost also make it harder to display and care for spring plants, Krause said. Many have to be kept in the greenhouse right now. Late spring snow also covered up supplies of soil for potting bare-root trees and plants, she said.

Van Nevel said the Garvin Nursery sells perennials, which tend to be less threatened by colder temperatures. However, she said cold snaps can be hard on budding trees.

One thing was positive about the late-spring snow and rain, nursery managers said.

“It’s very good that we had that moisture this spring,” Van Nevel said. “It’s really helped bring us out of this drought.”

Nursery managers emphasized that there is still plenty of time to plant a garden – but be prepared for a rush at the greenhouse.

“There might be some lines at the cash register,” Jason Farber said.