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Tips for gardening in Montana when surprise spring snowstorms hit

Posted at 12:52 PM, May 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-09 16:33:29-04

BOZEMAN — As spring approaches, many in Bozeman may have been preparing to plant flowers or start a garden—but as we learned Wednesday, the weather can still bring snow and freezing temps at this time of year. So, what do you do?

"With these types of weather events in May it gives us a reason to grow locally-grown trees and shrubs," Says Jerry Cashman, owner of Cashman Nursery and Landscaping.

He explains that locally grown plants are dormant during harsh weather, whereas transplants have to be kept inside greenhouses.

"The ideal situation is to plant your plants when they’re dormant so that weather events like this won’t hurt them, " Cashman says.

Weather like this in May isn’t abnormal for Montana, but Jerry says people can take steps to protect their trees and plants from breakage or wilting.

"Fortunately, this snow has come early enough in the season when most of our trees aren’t fully leafed out yet. But if you just give them a little shake, the snow comes off quite easily and it takes the weight off of them, so you don’t get any breakage," he says.

According to Jerry, Memorial Day is the best time to start planting softer plants like peppers and tomatoes, when the threat of frost is gone.

"But this would be the perfect time to be planting asparagus, raspberries, strawberries. Asparagus goes into the ground at this time of year and radishes can be seeded," Cashman says.

But don’t worry if you caught the gardening bug and planted early—Jerry has some tips for you.

"Something like a five-gallon pail or boxes or something on top will keep the frost away and keep the snow from crushing the plants," says Cashman.