BOISE, Idaho — There’s really nothing like this time of year - bees are buzzing, birds are chirping and plants are starting to grow.
But what can grow outside this time of year is specific to the geography of the area without the watchful eyes of a gardener.
“The problem is i think that if you put anything out there that's tender, like a tomato plant, you have to protect it," Susan Bell, University of Idaho Horticulturalist, said of this time of year.
There are lots of factors that impact when and where a plant can grow. An important one is minimum winter temperatures - broken down geographically through hardiness zones that determine which plants can survive outside.
“So plants that can fit into our hardiness zones, we'd be looking at growing things that are somewhere between a six and a seven," Bell said.
Generally, any species in hardiness zones 2 through 7 can live outside and survive south-Idaho winters, but anything above zone 8 needs the help of an observant gardener and a good growing season without frost.
“We usually have about 150 to 160 growing days here," Bell said.
In 2016, the Boise area saw the longest growing season on record at 232 days. Bell said that's positive thing for growers. Some crops, for example sweet potatoes,take over 200 days to thrive.
Bell says right now, planting cool season crops like garlic is fine and underground crops like carrots are a safe bet. However, it’s still too early for plants that need tons of sun like beans, corn, or tomatoes.
So with fluctuating conditions, gardeners are watching the weather closely this time of year.
“Oh, they watch it all the time and they become, I guess, weather hawks," Bell said.
If you have any questions about gardening you can reach out to Susan Bell, or any of the Master Gardeners at the University of Idaho Ada County Extension office, for questions.
The Master Gardeners are hosting a plant sale this Saturday from 9 AM to 12 PM at 5880 Glenwood Street, near the Western Idaho Fairgrounds, in Boise.