The Q&A Archives: Planting Garlic Watering Azaleas Hibiscus Estimating Last Frost Dates

Question: I just received my Burpee order of garlic and broccoli rabe. I read somewhere that these can be planted earlier than my last frost date, which is typically mid-May for us here. I live in central NJ (Zone 6). When should I plant these two things? Ijust planted two azaleas, an hibiscus, and two potentilla (cinquefoil). Do I need to water these frequently to establish them? If so, how often is frequently? Every day? Every week? And for how many weeks do I need to do this? I live in Zone 6 (New Jersey). Also, I'm a little confused about the zoning maps. In Zone 6, the official last frost date is April 15, yet everyone who lives here know you can't reliably plant anything until about Mothers Day, May 11, or thereabouts. Why is the last frost date on the zoning maps so early? This causes confusion when I'm trying to plan my planting schedule and also when I order from mail order houses because I wind up getting my seedlings too early. I'd appreciate any light you can shed on this topic. Thank you. Jacqui Carrion Robbinsville, NJ

Answer: You can plant garlic and broccoli raab about 2 weeks before your last frost date. If you have a cold snap, try covering the planting with a floating row cover such as Reemay. Also, wait until the ground's dried out before planting! The way this spring has been going, I dont' think you'll have to water your azalea, hibsicus and potentilla at all!!! Actually, if it doesn't rain at least 1" a week, then consider watering. You can also mulch the base of the plants to conserve moisture and lessen the amount of watering you have to do. The last frost dates are only estimates of when you can place plants out. Eventhough your last frost date is in April, the soil may still be too cold to place out warm season crops until May. Unless, you're in a hurry, there's no need to rush warm season plants such as tomatoes into the garden. The cool season plants need to be out early, but this also depends on the weather and year. This spring has been wet and cool, so you'd probably wait a bit longer toput plants out. By now, however, you should have most flowers and vegetables seeded or planted into the garden.

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