Don’t Plant Too Early!

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Even if the weather is warm in late March and early April, we can still have frost for a while. The last predicted killing frost date for us is April 16. This date is set by the United States Dept. of Agriculture and is taken from an average of frost dates in past years. We can still have frost later than April 16 and sometimes it can be much later-remember a couple of years ago? We had a major freeze on May 20 that caused lots of damage to local gardens.

I would advise homeowners to be conservative in the numbers of tender plants they set out, at least until the first of May. Plants aren’t going to do any growing until the soil warms up anyway and most plants that are put out in May will quickly catch up with and overtake those that have had to struggle with cold temperatures and chilly winds. If early vegetables are your goal, plant cool-season varieties and you will still harvest some good early produce.

If early plants do get threatened by frost, covering can help minimize the damage. It is best to cover with paper, cloth, or cardboard-something that is breathable so that moisture can escape. Covering with plastic can trap moisture and if temperatures drop low enough, condensation can freeze on the plants and cause damage.

Enjoy the spring but don’t rush it. It’s hard to imagine frost when the days are in the mid-70s but don’t be fooled. Mother Nature isn’t finished with us yet!

Written By

Donna Teasley, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionDonna TeasleyExtension Agent, Agriculture - Horticulture Call Donna E-mail Donna N.C. Cooperative Extension, Burke County Center
Posted on Mar 30, 2021
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