Attention gardeners: Cover your tomatoes and cucumbers tonight

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This undated photo shows an Angelique tulip in New Paltz, N.Y. Angelique is a variety of tulip that not only bears beautiful blossoms but also will repeat the show year after year with a minimum of care. | Lee Reich via AP

If you’re worried about the flowers and vegetables you just planted falling prey to the 40ish degree weather that’s creeping across Chicago, know this: protecting them can be simple.Consider a few tips that Heather Sherwood, a senior horticulturalist from the Chicago Botanic Garden, offered Sunday as temperatures reached a high of 48.It would be a good idea to cover your cucumbers, tomatoes, basil and peppers with a thin bed sheet, a garbage bag or even a bucket, Sherwood said.The covering will capture the radiant heat from the ground to offer a few degrees of extra warmth.Leave the protective coverings on overnight and take them off Monday when temperatures are forecast to rise to the high 50s, she said.If you haven’t planted yet, keep the unplanted veggies inside or in a garage overnight.“The danger isn’t that they will die. The danger is that they’ll be set back by probably a week or so from flowering,” she said, noting that the flower is what ultimately brings forth the intended harvest.Veggies you don’t have to worry about because they thrive in cooler weather include: lettuce, snap peas, carrots, radishes and kale. Rosemary, sage, thyme, mint and cilantro will also be fine on their own.And when it comes to cold snaps and decorative gardens: don’t worry about your perennials, they’ll be just fine, Sherwood said.But if you have annuals that are in the ground and flowering, cover them up for the night, too.“It’s the flowers that get delayed or aborted,” Sherwood said.The proactive measures will help, and hopefully warm weather will soon arrive and stay; this year’s nearly-nonexistent spring has taken its toll on just about all green life.“Everything this spring has been super late,” Sherwood said.“It’s Mother Nature, she always wins.”

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