Experience and a bit of intuition, along with information on past seasons, certainly come into play in determining when to plant in the garden. While the weather may seem unpredictable, years of collecting data have helped the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Serviceproduce maps of spring and fall freeze occurrence. The maps provide dates with a 10 percent probability and are downloadable either as a JPEG or Adobe PDF.
Clever Gardening Technique
Weeding, Fertilizing and Mulching Early
Granted it slows down soil warming, but over the years, I've come to appreciate the benefits of weeding, fertilizing, and mulching flower beds at this time of year. So much has to be done these next several months, and having taking care of this chore the first thing really makes the rest of the season go more smoothly. First, I remove any weeds and plant debris, loosen the soil surface with a three-proned hand cultivator, and then apply a complete organic fertilizer and some pelleted lime. Finally, a several-inch-thick layer of partially composted hardwood mulch gets spread evenly over the bed.