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Good Gardening: Protecting Your Plants From Sunshine

John Fischer

After a long- longest if you count rainy days- winter, we, and our plants are itching to get outside, and soak up some sun.

You already know that before you emerge from your home squinty-eyed and mole-like, you need to put on some sunscreen, and wear a hat.  Forget, and you'll get a red reminder of how strong the  May sunshine can be.
  Plants that have gone straight from a greenhouse into the sunshine can get burned too.  But they will turn white, not red.  There are two ways to avoid this problem- protection, and acclimation.
  The best way to prepare your vegetable starts for a move to the great outdoors is time.  A few hours of direct sunlight the first day, a few more the next, and by weeks end they will be ready for our long sunny spring days.  Nursery plants may suffer from cold shock too.  If they are still in containers, bring them inside if night time temperatures will fall below 40 degrees.
  If your plants are already in the ground- hey, it was finally sunny on Saturday- give them some sun protection for a few days.  I like to put a scrap of plywood- say 18 inches square on top of my tomato cages.  That allows morning and afternoon sunshine, while protecting plants from the midday rays.
  A wall of water, a small piece of plastic clothes pinned to the cage can provide a little extra warmth until summer really kicks in.
  Perennials and trees won't need any special care as they have been raised outdoors.
   Once your plants have made it through the first week of sunshine, they should be ready for all day exposure- too bad the same isn't true for us.

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