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March 10, 2010 / Dave Gorham

The Last Frost and Your Garden

Spring is less than two weeks away and like many of you, I’m ready for the warmer weather. This has been one of the snowiest winters on record for parts of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region, including Baltimore and Washington, D.C.  Even the southern U.S. broke snowfall records with the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport recording 12.5 inches of snow within a 24-hour period this past February.

Since winter is almost behind us, it’s time to start thinking about your spring garden. Of course, the best time to start planting will vary depending on where you live and what you plant. The average dates for the last frost will also vary depending on where you live. The southern states typically see their last frost in March, whereas areas along the Rocky Mountains and northern Maine may not see their last frost until June. This is a very important detail to consider since many plants can be damaged or killed by frost or freezing temperatures.

 


 

The average dates for the last frost. Image: The Tasteful Garden (www.tastefulgarden.com/images/frostdatemap.jpg).

Gardeners tend to be hesitant on planting too early because they fear an unexpected late frost could damage their crops. It’s best to research which crops will flourish in your environment and may be hearty enough to withstand an unexpected late frost. Cool season crops, such as cabbage, broccoli, potatoes, and lettuce can tolerate a light frost. However, warm season crops like squash, corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers will be killed by frost. It is best to plant warm season crops after the last frost date.

For more information on your specific state and city’s average last frost dates, visit the National Climatic Data Center.

 

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