Spring Fever

| 3/28/2012 1:07:36 PM

Tags: Front range gardening, Last average frost date, spring fever, gardening, frost,

Minnie Hatz headshotEarly March brought warm temperatures to the front range. I have my garden plowed. The grass is showing green shoots. Stores have racks of seeds and the nurseries even have trees and shrubs. Why not plant garden early?

Having lived here most of my life, I have learned to read some signs. One of the first signs of spring is the cranes going north. They usually proceed weather changes by about 6 weeks. How­ever, unless I am outside and hear their purring call as they fly high overhead, I can miss that sign. Another reliable sign is the ice being completely off the lakes and reservoirs. This sign seems to hold true throughout the country. The freeze will not go out of the ground and allow plowing until the ice is off the water.

Late winter snow
Piles of late winter snow. 

The ice is off the water, but I am still waiting, for quite a while yet. The home improvement stores that carry nursery stock may not tell you, but the businesses that are strictly nurseries often have signs posted that the last average freeze date is May 15! A couple of years ago we had a mas­sive blizzard on St. Pats. I have seen similar blizzards in the first week of May. Granted, the snow doesn’t last long, but it can certainly freeze a garden.

A friend of mine bought a blooming fruit tree for a head start. A late freeze killed the blossoms, and the tree so even nursery stock isn’t yet safe.

I will likely hold off until that last average date or even later if the weather should be cool. This can complicate life as the end of the growing season can be as early as Labor day. I usually opt for 75 to 80 day corn and about 50 day tomatoes. Almost everyone who grows tomatoes here can tell stories of getting NO ripe tomatoes because the frost came before they could ripen.

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