Crop Update – Another Canadian Month of May

When I first came to Canada, as a student, it was the month of May, and I was marvelled by how fast the daytime length was changing, as well as temperature and weather conditions, from one day to the next. A general topic for light conversation is the weather, but a truly Canadian conversational trait on this topic is to point out how “unusual it has been this year.” After a couple of years, the weather continued to be “unusual” and, more than twenty years after I have moved permanently to Ontario, I feel at home, finding myself casually commenting on the unusually cold/hot/snowy/dry/[insert other weather condition here] weather; I have come to realize that people are not being mendacious, but there is simply no such thing as usual Canadian weather, and “unusual” really means “unpredictable.”

The month of May is particularly tricky, and this year, we had unusually hot weather for the first weeks, only to be sharply cleaved by an unusually cold spell, starting a couple of days ago. I finished my previous post saying that I was going to be very busy transplanting seedlings from pots (as seen at the top of this post, photo taken on May 21, 2021) to the garden beds; that process came to a halt yesterday, and I was busy bringing some of the most tender plants closer to the house for shelter, and protecting some of the already planted ones. In the photo below, some tender mini watermelon seedlings, sheltered under bottomless plastic bottles (photo taken today, May 28, 2021):

The new-to-me crops in my garden this year are chiltepín hot peppers, cempasúchil marigolds, and pápalo herb, all native to Mexico; they are more likely to thrive in warm to hot weather, as opposed to the cold and rainy conditions right now. This is how the opening of my outdoor planting season has rolled out, from nice days (May 21 and 25, 2021) to inclement weather (today, May 28, 2021):

Two chiltepín seedlings in milk carton (May 21, 2021)
Same seedling, transplanted to garden bed (May 25, 2021)
Same seedlings, today (May 28, 2021)
Cempasúchil seedlings in pots (May 21, 2021)
Cempasúchil seedlings in garden bed (May 25, 2021)
Same seedlings, today (May 28, 2021)
Pápalo seedlings in pots (May 21, 2021)
Same seedlings, barely surviving outside the house (May 28, 2021)

I hope my poor seedlings will survive the spartan conditions, with the worst of the cold spell still to come tonight; the weather is improving as of tomorrow, I will keep my fingers crossed …

11 thoughts on “Crop Update – Another Canadian Month of May

  1. I’m also in Ontario (Toronto) and every year I am caught out by the “unusual” temperature swings in May! This morning I think there was actually some snow mixed in with the rain. Hope all your seedlings will make it through tonight.


  2. Nice shots of your plants, Irene. I put my peppers and tomatoes in the ground earlier this week and am not scared that frost will get them. The frost got the big lilac bushes earlier in the season but the dwarf blossoms are still intact. I’ve also direct planted a bunch of mammoth sunflower seeds and zucchini that haven’t come up yet. Fingers crossed on all of yours and mine that they make it.


  3. I know I sound like a broken record when it comes to cold frames, but here in 5b they are a real crop saver in the spring. In New England we, like you to the north, have freakish Mays. Hot for a week and then back down to chilly – tonight I started a fire in the wood stove because it’s raining and going down to the forties. My cold frames used to be old windows over either bales of hay or cinder block. Now I have some cheapies that I “improved” from Amazoo. Try them I think you’ll really like the results.


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