Late spring snow raises gardening concerns


BOZEMAN, Mont. - Folks in the Bozeman and Belgrade areas woke up Monday to several inches of new snow on the ground -- the latest wintry blast in what feels like a long, cool spring.

It's left many Gardeners and green thumbs eager to get plants into the ground, but not wanting to do it too early.

Anna Deal is an avid gardener. Raised flower beds line her front yard. She says a lot of people don't begin their gardens until next month, but she just couldn't wait.

Deal said, "I tried to gamble a little bit and try to get an early start, but I know that it is a gamble and it still could snow and kill them."

The snow Bozeman saw Sunday didn't catch her entirely off guard. She brought her more sensitive plants inside before the worst of it hit. She told us, "The tomatoes are inside, they're green and happy, but they'd be dead if they were outside last night."

We visited a local garden supply store to learn more. Eric Vinje owns Planet Natural in Bozeman. He says spring snow is something Montana gardeners need to be aware of.

"A lot of times we get a frost early in the year, too," Vinje said. "So it's challenging here, but it can be done."

Gardener Marlenea La Shomb tells us it's all about preparation.

La Shomb explained, "Covering your plants, getting them started early, and then planting them outdoors."

Making sure plants are mature enough to handle the cold before planting them can be helpful, as well as using coverings like cold frames or plastic to protect plants from the elements. La Shomb said that gets the plants, "To where they can survive versus dying back."

The snow will also saturate the soil.

Vinje says with the ground soaked through, you'll want to push back when planting can be done.

Vinje said, "It's just going to make it tougher to work with the soil. Really, you want to wait a little until the soil starts to dry out before you get in there."

Nonetheless, Vinje says business was steady despite the snow. His customers are eager to begin work on their gardens.

He told us, "It is Montana. Springtime in the Rockies. We'll see, hopefully it starts to warm up a little bit around here."