when to plant fruit trees or vegetables out? / Montgomery County

Asked March 20, 2018, 11:24 PM EDT

With all the impending snow storms and cold weather patterns, when is it a good time to plant fruit trees and vegetable transplants into the ground? They are out at the garden centers now, but we are forecasted to have more snow this week. Our last frost date isn't until April 1, 2 according to https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/spring-frostfreeze-dates-maryland or April 12 according to the Farmers Almanac. If I purchase trees or transplants now, what should I do with them until April? Can I put them under some hoops with light row covers? What about the fruit trees that have been ordered? My backyard garden is inside the beltway in Silver Spring/Bethesda/Chevy Chase area. Thank you,

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

For the fruit trees, you can plant whenever the ground is not frozen but the soil is 'workable'. That means the soil is not too wet. To test the soil, make a ball of soil in your hand, crush lightly. It should easily fall apart. If it sticks together, it's too wet. Please read through our online pub: http://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/HG69_Getti... You may need to heel them it if you order too far in advance.
Use our search feature for more fruit info.

As for the vegetables, plant them out according to our gardening calendars: http://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/not_update... Some vegetables like cool spring temps, others don't. We would not recommend buying transplant long before you plan to plant. But, yes, you can certainly protect them somewhat with row cover. It will all depend on the temperatures and the type of vegetable. You don't want them to get too hot either. It may help to read through the profiles on the specific vegetable crops in ourLearn section, Vegetables.
There are a lot of topics there, including Extending the Growing Season.