Friday, April 12, 2013

Frost Free

Most garden centres don't launch into full swing until May. And when I was a kid, Victoria Day weekend was always the imaginary start-line for vegetable gardening. Nothing could go into the ground until May 24. And if you did put something in the ground early, there was always that sense that you were playing Frost-Russian-Roulette.

Now that I've had a garden of my own for a few seasons, I've realized a few things.
I've realized that frost-free dates vary by region. And that there is a huge difference in average temperatures and weather in Thunder Bay or Bancroft or Peterborough or Owen Sound or Ottawa than Burlington or Niagara-On-The-Lake.  A few hundred kilometres can make a big difference. Proximity to a large body of water, like a Great Lake can make a big difference. So to be a truly informed decision-maker about how much risk you're really taking by putting frost-sensitive crops into the ground before Victoria Day weekend, you really should consider your locale. I use the No Guff Gardening website for information on the specific average frost-free dates from my area. And in Burlington, the average frost-free day is May 5th.

Another thing I've learned about gardening is that I don't always need to play it safe. And I am willing to plant some plants on May 5th, even though it's an average frost-free date with the knowledge that I could lose them to frost. It could happen. Just like when you invest your money, you need to do a risk-analysis and decide if you like to play it safe or take a walk on the wild side.

And finally, after reading many seed packets (it's a hobby of mine, really), I've realized that half the crops can go in before the frost-free date anyway! Many seeds can be planted as soon as the soil is workable. Here in Burlington, our soil has been workable since the end of March. So last weekend, I planted carrot seeds, peas, lettuce and spinach. Those are all crops that can handle a few cold nights.

p.s. Cole asked me to plant celery. It's his new favourite food. I said, "SURE!" I also thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to blog about growing celery.
Then I googled how to grow celery. And some sites called it one of the trickiest crops to grow! Needs lots and lots of water and no extremely hot days and I decided that I am not quite an expert enough gardener to grow celery (read: I don't care to work quite so hard at something that is supposed to be fun).

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