What are frost dates?
Frost dates, or the last spring frost and first fall frost, determine when you should sow seeds or set out transplants. Some plants, like pansies and broccoli, can shrug off light frosts, but other plants, like tomatoes and marigolds, need warmer conditions. You need to know the frost dates in your area so you know when is the proper time to sow seeds or set out transplants in your garden. The time you do these activities will depend upon these dates.
How do I determine what my frost dates are?
You can find out in a couple of ways:
- Ask a gardening neighbor for the dates he or she uses.
- Call your Cooperative Extension agent (look up the number in the county government pages in your phone book - each county in the U.S. has an office - or get the phone number from the Cooperative Extension offices online directory (just click on your state). When you call, an agricultural or horticultural agent, or a Master Gardener, should be able to help you.
How do I use my frost dates to know when to start my seeds?
Traditionally, charts, calendars, and date arithmetic have been used for determining the starting times for seeds and for safe transplanting times. Weekend Gardener uses a different approach. Each week, in GrowGuide, we provide you with tables tailored to your frost dates that tell you exactly what you should be sowing or transplanting.
I want to have a fall garden, but how do I know when to start my seeds for them? The books and charts I use mostly tell me when to start seeds in the spring. And I'm so busy in the middle of summer that I forget to look at the charts and do the calculations in time to have one.
Use Weekend Gardener's GrowGuide to help you plan your fall garden (be sure to select "Fall Garden" in the form). See the instructions on that page for all the details.