As a beginner gardener, the term frost dates is something you will hear or see often. Every seed catalog and website you come across will have these two terms First Frost date and last frost date. These terms are essential for gardeners. Misinterpret or neglect this information and you run the risk of reduced or decreased harvest, stunted growth or even worse killing your plants. Your frost date is determined by where you live. Each USDA gardening zones frost dates differ. Since we are talking about nature, it is difficult, if not impossible, to be exact. So when it comes to these dates, use them as a guideline, add 2 weeks in each direction.
The First Frost Date or FFD is the first day that a frost is expected in your garden. Why is this important? Armed with this information, we can work backward from this date and ensure that we are planting things at the right time to ensure we actually receive a harvest. While some plants can withstand or benefit from frost or freezes, this is not true for everything. So this First Frost date really helps us with our fall gardening. We now know when any plants that are not capable of withstanding the cold are given sufficient time to produce.
The Last Frost Date or LFD is the last day that frost is expected. So knowing your LFD will help you prepare for spring. Using this information to help plan for the garden. Most spring plants except for cucumbers and other squash need a minimum of 8 weeks before they are ready for the garden. So knowing the LFD, we can work backward 8 weeks and make sure that we have enough time to start our seeds and have healthy transplants.
With gardening, timing is vital. Plant broccoli at the wrong time and it won't form a head, lettuce to late in the season and it will bolt before you have a chance to make a salad.
Armed with this knowledge, you are now ready to plan your garden and start your seeds. Hopefully, this helps you feel more confident to get your hands dirty and out in the garden. Don’t forget the motto JUST GROW IT!
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