Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Find your Frost Date

This year we have decided as a family to plant a garden. Given my past history of killing plants, being allergic to plants and my overwhelming fear of creepy crawly things, this is a very big deal for me. I've been debating the pros and cons constantly for two weeks. On top of all of those personal hang-ups, it costs significant cash to start a proper garden here. I'll detail the exact cost sometime in the next week, but it is a staggering amount.

There is also a significant amount of knowledge required to start a garden. Luckily a wonderful woman at Lowe's stopped me from running out and sticking tomato plants in my garden two weeks ago. They'd be black and withered by now from the frost. Yeah, I should have known about the frost. In my defense, I grew up in Utah where gardening can be started earlier than in Connecticut. And, again, I have killed many poor plants in the past.

The Lowe's lady taught me about my "last frost date" -- the date that is the average date for the final frost of the year. After your last frost date, you are safe to plant many of the summer veggies. Also, seed packets often say, "Plant three weeks prior to your final frost." If you don't know when that is, you are setting yourself up to either kill your plants with frost or heat depending on the plant's required temperature. For a great reference site, see the Frost Date Selector to find your local frost date.

One other tip from the Lowe's lady -- every area of the country has a particular plant to watch. When that plant blooms, it's safe to put in your summer veggies like tomatoes. Cool, huh? Our plant here in Connecticut is Forsythia a beautiful yellow flowered shrub. When you see the yellow blossoms, go for it! Plant those tomatoes and bask in the sunshine they require! If you don't live in Connecticut, I recommend finding your own "Lowe's lady" to know what plant to watch for in your area.
Just a final note -- there is also a "first frost" date in the fall. That will also damage plants. So, when that time comes be sure to watch the weather so that you're able to protect your plants from the evil "first frost" and get a few more weeks of veggies from that mighty investment of time and energy you call a vegetable garden.

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