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Bad timing: A spring freeze threatens Utah gardens and yards

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There’s a cold snap in the air and the rain is beginning to fall on South Jordan. And at Glover Nursery, they’re scrambling to put delicate and expensive inventory under wraps.

“It’s in the hundreds of thousands,” says manager Donna Emery, as she pulls fabric and plastic sheets over shelves stacked with plants.

The spring, back to winter, weather has crews working quickly at Glover Nursery. While some help customers load purchases into trucks and onto trailers, others scurry to cover plants that won’t fit inside the greenhouse, the warehouse, and under shelter, any place that offers a few degrees of warmth.

Emery says the same thing is happening in back yards all over central and northern Utah.

“If you just bought all new plants and you don’t want to replace them,” she warns, “cover them up or bring them indoors, if you can.”

The process is simple – cover plants with lightweight sheets. Glover Nursery uses plastic and even fabric sheets.

“We buy used sheets from second-hand stores,” Emery says.

But knowing which plants need protection from the cold is not so simple.

“These are not hearty,” Emery explains, surrounded by thousands of plants, inside the greenhouse. “Some of our vegetables can take a little frost, but some of them, like beans and herbs and like basil, they can’t take any frost.”

Everything we see at neighborhood nurseries is growing in back yards around Utah. Most of them are at risk, even when it’s two degrees from a freeze.

“For the true tropicals, even below 40 degrees, can be hard on some of the plants, like basil, for instance,” Emery says. “So if it’s going to be below 40 degrees, we advise people to cover.”

Emery says that even if the forecast calls for a low of 34 degrees Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, plants might not survive.

“Tomatoes and peppers and eggplants and squash,” she says, “they’re all tropicals. They’re not going to take that kind of cold.”

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