Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Are We Beyond the Last Frost? Is it Safe to Plant?

After several warm days and moderate nights, we had a weekend of cooler weather that included a drop down below 30 degrees F.

Some years, such as in 2011, 2012, and 2013, our last frost has occurred before the end of March, and it is possible that the warm weather forecast for the upcoming week will seduce gardeners who remember those warm years into setting out tender transplants, like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and tomatillos.

For all those gardeners, I would just like to offer the reminder that last year, the last frost for this area was on April 16. That dip to 30 degrees F (as measured at UGA's automated weather station in Dallas, GA; in Alpharetta it was 28 degrees F) was preceded by a couple of weeks of warm, spring weather.

All the local gardeners who decide to set out tender transplants before mid-April should keep in mind that those plants may need some frost-protection on one or more days. Notice how I didn't say, "Don't do it!"

That's because, in all honesty, I will be one of those gardeners who just can't wait. 

It is closer to "safe," though, to begin planting seeds of some crops, especially if they are set into furrows that offer a little shelter from breezes and cool nights. Seeds that I consider "safe to plant this week" include corn and beans. Cucumbers, melons, and squashes will follow the next week. Okra germinates more reliably in warmer soils, so planting time for those seeds will be closer to the end of April.

Soil temperatures currently are in the mid-50s (degrees F), which means that seeds for some summer crops are going to germinate more slowly than we might prefer.  While we wait, we can enjoy the always-amazing unfolding of spring.


  1. I covered my blueberry plants Sat night when we got down to 28, but some of the covers had blown off by morning. How can I tell if the freeze hurt them, 3 out of 4 were in full bloom. The 4th was just starting to bloom.

    1. We all are in the same boat, except that some of us weren't in town to cover our blueberry bushes (I've been in Texas for a wedding). We will only learn the extent of the damage as we watch the browned blossoms fall.

      If we are lucky, fruit-set was far enough along that we will get a full flush of berries; if we aren't, then we will have fewer blueberries this year.

      I hope your gardening is going well, and that we all end up with plenty of blueberries! -Amy

    2. I'll have to check them again and see. I surely hope we'll get good berries this year. A few years ago we got an unexpected freeze right before/at Easter and I had very poor harvest.

    3. I remember that "lost year" for blueberries and would rather not repeat it. For now, I am going to just hope for the best and remind myself that every year is an adventure!

      Off-topic, but have you thought about returning to your blog with garden posts? Just curious. I know that lives change, and writing often gets put on hold while everything re-adjusts. -Amy

    4. I hadn't really thought about blogging about gardening. Maybe I will consider it. Mostly I found that what I was blogging about went on Facebook instead and reached many more people.

      My blueberries are still looking good, so I'm hoping I dodged that bullet! They are covered in flowers and bees, so that's good. Now I just hope I get some around our vacation which is probably going to be smack dab in prime blueberry season.


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