Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > March 2013 > So Exactly When is Our Last Frost?

So Exactly When is Our Last Frost?

I’m forever trying to get an earlier tomato. I start my seeds indoors no later than the middle of March. Lacking a greenhouse or cold-frame, I start them in a sunny window in my spare bedroom and have nice-sized little plants ready to plant outside by April. But when exactly?
 
Most people say April 15th. According to the UVA Climatology Office, here in Richmond we have a 50% chance of having a frost on or after April 6th. We have only a 10% chance of having a frost on or after April 23rd. We have had a frost as late as May 11th, however, and, on April 29th, just three years ago right here in Bon Air, I had frost. 
 
I wasn’t expecting frost, you understand. It was after the middle of April. I figured I was safe. I’d already moved most of my houseplants back outside and tucked in my precious tomato and pepper seedlings. The night of April 29th, I sat down to watch the eleven o’clock new and, just a few minutes later, my neighbors saw a deranged woman running about the yard pulling plants back inside and draping sheets all over the place. 
 
Some seeds I always wait to plant. I direct-sow cukes, squash, and beans no sooner than the second week of May. Beans perform best in warmer soil anyway and waiting till the end of May to get in cucurbit family members means that those just-hatched hungry little cucumber beetles will be munching on your neighbor’s plants—not yours.
 
I’m not saying that I don’t still try to get my veggies in as soon as I can, but now I tend to keep them in pots a little longer. By mid-April, they have already been bumped up to a four or six inch pot. I set the pots in trays and begin “hardening” them off outside. Being in trays makes it easy to grab the whole thing and stuff back in the house for the night, if necessary. 
 
I am probably not going to commit tender veggies to the ground until May 1. If you have row covers, hoop houses or little “water-towers” to protect your plants—or don’t mind running about your yard at eleven o’clock at night—then plant them sooner. As for me, from here on out, I’ll take the lower stress road and wait a little longer.
Posted: 3/18/2013 by Bonnie Pega | with 1 comment(s)
Filed under: BonniePega, Bonnie'sGarden
Comments
Ivano
i have a three year old rootstock which ive had pleantd for about a month,and i aready have two 16 runners pluss about 4-5 smaller ones. these things grow fast.i didnt realize it would grow as fast as it has
5/20/2013 7:02:19 AM

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