What About This Year?
But even that will only give you an average date. How can you know what will be the last frost for this year, this spring? Ha! Trick question: you can’t know until it’s over, and then it doesn’t really help you. What do I mean by that?
Last Year’s Last Frost Determines This Year’s Sowing Schedule
By virtue of previous record-keeping, we know our last spring frost will be sometime in May, possibly even June. So we are careful to record every low temperature at this time of year, but we won’t know when the last frost for this spring will be until all danger of frost is past, and we look back over our records and say, “Aha! Such-and-such a date was our last frost.” So we plan our seed starting, seed sowing, and seedling transplants based on that date from previous years.
Why am I bringing this up? Because we have had such a long string of mild weather and frost-free nights, that we are starting to wonder if we’ve already had our last frost. The apple blossoms and the lilacs are starting to open. The old beech leaves have dropped and the new ones are opening, which entangled reported in a comment meant there would be no more frosts.
If there are no more frosts, we started our tomatoes too late this year. If there are no more frosts, I can pull the leaf mulch off my reblooming hydrangeas. If there are no more frosts, we can stop bringing in the container-grown rosemary and cannas every night. If there are no more frosts, I can stop worrying about the hostas, lilies, and bleeding heart emerging further from the ground every day.
This morning I discovered that the dahlia tuber I had given up on as dead was, in fact, sprouting. I considered potting it up to join the rosemary and cannas on their nightly migration back indoors, but decided to gamble instead. I planted it right in the ground. Yes, I planted it directly into the soil, knowing full well that our typical, usual last frost date is at least three weeks away. Talk about daring!
I’ve just taken a peek at the forecast, and they’re now predicting a low of 34F for Sunday night and Monday night. Thirty-four could very easily become 32F, and on a clear night, which Monday is predicted to be, it could drop significantly lower in this cold pocket we call home. If it does frost before the apple blossoms are pollinated, there will be no apples. The hostas will surely be singed. I have seen bleeding heart killed right back to the ground. The dahlia can be covered, but the lily stalks are too tall. Hopefully I will remember to bring the pots in, and we will be thankful the tomatoes are still under the lights, and not too big yet.
Gardening is only a refined form of gambling, after all. Sometimes the odds are fearfully against us; sometimes we win; but once the passion seizes us we are the victims of its fascination for life. ~Neltje Blanchan