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BonniePega
Jul 21, 2017 12:52 PM CST
After looking at your website, I have numerous questions. As a lifelong resident of Central Virginia, I'm wondering where you get your planting dates from!?!?!?! Our "average" last frost date here is April 15th (and has been for decades). "Average" means, of course, that they have averaged together last frosts before and after that date. For the past three years, we've even had hard frosts the end of April. The only thing I'd plant out April 6th are, oh, peas or something. Peppers which are native to Central American, near the equator, are more prone to fungal problems in cool spring weather so I never put my transplants out until after May 1. Only if I had row covers would I go earlier. Things like string beans or corn which LOATHE cool soil I never even direct plant until mid-May.

In your section on fall planting, you include when to plant warm season veggies for fall crops! Can't understand that one at all. Plant a watermelon out July 17th and you MIGHT get one or two before the first fall frost in October, but why not plant them earlier when you can enjoy a nice ice cold watermelon when it's hot--not when you've had to pull out your winter sweaters because night temps are dipping into the 40's (which watermelons HATE, anyway?)
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
Jul 21, 2017 2:28 PM CST
https://garden.org/nga/zipzone...
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[Last edited by crawgarden - Jul 21, 2017 2:28 PM (+)]
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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Jul 21, 2017 2:35 PM CST
That's the exact reason why using "average" dates and plant hardiness zones for home gardens really isn't all that great. We are able to make much better decisions on when to plant using weather forecasts than using an "average frost date" as a rule.

Those USDA zones were originally intended for use by farmers, not home gardeners in any case. As you've pointed out, the date of last frost varies by weeks every year. We're usually safe to plant out warm weather veggies like tomatoes and peppers by the 3rd week of February, but this year we had a cold snap in mid-March! Shrug!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
VA
BonniePega
Jul 21, 2017 4:28 PM CST
crawgarden said:https://garden.org/nga/zipzone/



Thanks for posting the zone map--but I know I'm in 7a. And, since I'm a Master Gardener, I know when our last "expected" frost date is--however this website is telling people to plant tomatoes, etc. outside beginning April 6th. I would never ever tell someone to do that unless they were growing in high tunnel or cold frames.

Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
Jul 21, 2017 4:52 PM CST
Hi Bonnie,
Sorry, I guess I'm in the dark, could you show the thread you are referencing. For the most part the articles are very generalized and are written by those in that zone, unless a article comes from a periodical.
There are a lot of MGs on this site, and higher, I'm sure everyone would enjoy and relish any expertise and correction that you can offer for your zone, area and gardening info.
Welcome!
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
[Last edited by crawgarden - Jul 21, 2017 5:26 PM (+)]
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Name: Frenchy
Falls Church, VA (Zone 7b)
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Frenchy21
Jul 21, 2017 5:19 PM CST
Hi Bonnie,

I am in zone 7b and the planting calendar works for me. I've been planting tomatoes for the last 15 years. Thumbs up
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Jul 21, 2017 5:24 PM CST
BonniePega said:
...however this website is telling people to plant tomatoes, etc. outside beginning April 6th.



For what it's worth, I believe this site is not actually telling anyone what to do but rather providing information so each individual garden can make an informed decision.

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Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
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ctcarol
Jul 21, 2017 6:29 PM CST
The USDA climate zones are too general for home gardeners, but until we all get Sunset zones, it's the best offered, I guess. Sunset Western Garden zones are geared to the many different climates on the west coast, and are now on the east coast, also. The rest of the country is at the mercy of the USDA.
VA
BonniePega
Jul 22, 2017 7:53 AM CST
ctcarol said:The USDA climate zones are too general for home gardeners, but until we all get Sunset zones, it's the best offered, I guess. Sunset Western Garden zones are geared to the many different climates on the west coast, and are now on the east coast, also. The rest of the country is at the mercy of the USDA.


No, we're at the mercy of Mother Nature! :)

My problem is that they were recommending planting tomatoes, peppers, beans, etc. after April 6th. I've lived here my whole life--50 years--and more than once I've gone to church Easter Sunday with snow boots on. Our Extension office recommends April 15th or later--at our garden center, we usually recommend May 1 or later--because we've had numerous hard freezes even the end of April--the past three years included--April 26, 28, 29.

Name: Dave
Dayton, TN (Zone 7a)
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TennesseeDave
Jul 22, 2017 8:56 AM CST
Gardening to a large degree is an art I think. Yes it's grounded in science but sometimes things don't follow the rules especially the weather. I know what the frost-free dates are for my area but I plant when I think it's right based on what the winter has been and the present weather trend. I have guessed wrong a couple of times but generally I have been successful using that approach. Heck I don't know if I would enjoy gardening as much as I do if I had to follow an arbitrary set of rules.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
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Weedwhacker
Jul 22, 2017 9:19 AM CST
Welcome to NGA, Bonnie.

Is it the "planting calendar" (under Tools & Apps) that you're referring to? For some reason it's pretty screwed up for my zip code -- suggesting that tomatoes can be planted outside here around May 6th, and to plant bean seeds etc. "directly into the ground around May 10, or if your soil is still very cold, once the soil is near 60° F in temperature. " Global warming is going to get a lot more severe before we have a soil temp of 60 on May 10th!

I do agree that the calendar could be quite misleading for inexperienced gardeners -- it should probably mention that seeking advice from a local grower would be a good idea.

That said, there's a whole lot more to this site than the planting calendar -- I hope you'll take the time to familiarize yourself with its many features. Smiling
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Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Jul 22, 2017 9:40 AM CST
I agree that we all must consider our micro-climates. The planting calendar weather station most closely associated with my zip code is about a half hour north of me and is totally different than where I am - the weather station is in a protected river valley, whereas I am much closer to open salt water. Huge difference. I tend to plant based on earth signs - put the peas in when the frogs sing, spuds when the dandelions bloom, etc. I've also found invaluable information in my regional forum - you might check into the one closest to you. In any event, warm welcome!
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Name: Frenchy
Falls Church, VA (Zone 7b)
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Frenchy21
Jul 22, 2017 10:40 AM CST
Bonnie welcome to Garden.org Welcome! Welcome!
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Jul 22, 2017 12:16 PM CST
BonniePega said:

No, we're at the mercy of Mother Nature! :)

My problem is that they were recommending planting tomatoes, peppers, beans, etc. after April 6th. I've lived here my whole life--50 years--and more than once I've gone to church Easter Sunday with snow boots on. Our Extension office recommends April 15th or later--at our garden center, we usually recommend May 1 or later--because we've had numerous hard freezes even the end of April--the past three years included--April 26, 28, 29.



OK Bonnie - I've been gardening in Southern MD for 30 yeara and apartment balconies 15 year before that. I've been engaged in gardening chats since streaming chat in the 90s and told I should be a Master Gardener. because I gave classes there on streaming. I just hate going to classes.

You know the averages are just percentages, right? Average Last Frost Date is 50% a week later it is 30% chance of frost. A week later it is 10% (more or less).

So here is my take on the "schedule".

1. Go with the 30% chance. It safer.
2. Try a few seedlings in Wall O Waters before that to be even safer.
3. Pay more attention to soil temperature 8" deep than air temperature. Everyone should have a good soil thermometer.
4. Delay planting warm crops a week if in any doubt. Later plantings always seem to catch up to earlier plantings anyway.
5. Earliest planting dates are more local bragging rights, not production
6. Know your microclimate. I am downhill in my neighborhood. My soil stays 5 degrees cooler for a few weeks every Spring.
7. Black plastic only works in Spring if it is sealed all around the bed.
8. An extra week of seedlings under strong light is worth a week outside if you have transplanted them into 6" pots and they are safe there.
9. Speaking of indoor light, bulbs matter. It doesn't matter what the description is, 5,000K is best. I've done experiments with different ones.
10. And you know the closer the better. But did you know it is easier to raise the plants than to lower the bulbs? I have stacks of plywood shelves the size of the flats of varying heights.

Hope that helps.

Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Jul 22, 2017 12:30 PM CST
BonniePega said:
and more than once I've gone to church Easter Sunday with snow boots on.


Meant to add that Easter Sunday is a variable date. You can't use it for planting.

Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Jul 22, 2017 12:48 PM CST
I thought that as well - some years it's really early, other times really late. I do understand Bonnie's point though, which is to pay attention to how the weather is in any given year. And climate change is definitely affecting things. I had a hard and fast rule to not put corn in the ground until June 1, but now can get away with a mid-May planting. The planting guide gives me a range of Apr 9-23 to direct sow (?) And as Yardenman notes, sometimes those earlier plantings just languish, and later plantings can often show better growth than the early ones. Get to know your own micro-climate is my best advice.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Jul 22, 2017 12:53 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

The planting calendar being discussed is this one:

https://garden.org/apps/calend...

In answer to the question of "where do we get the frost dates?" the answer is here:

https://garden.org/apps/frost-...

You can enter your zipcode into that second link to see all the data we have. We got the data from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information. Any errors in the dates would have come from NOAA.
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Jul 22, 2017 1:08 PM CST
Bonehead said:I thought that as well - some years it's really early, other times really late. I do understand Bonnie's point though, which is to pay attention to how the weather is in any given year. And climate change is definitely affecting things. I had a hard and fast rule to not put corn in the ground until June 1, but now can get away with a mid-May planting. The planting guide gives me a range of Apr 9-23 to direct sow (?) And as Yardenman notes, sometimes those earlier plantings just languish, and later plantings can often show better growth than the early ones. Get to know your own micro-climate is my best advice.

I didn't think to mention climate change because it is gradual and varible. But you are right. My average last frost date here 30 years ago was late April and now it is mid-April.

And BTW, I noticed your tag line about the chicken's motives and CRACKED UP!!!
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Jul 22, 2017 1:13 PM CST
dave said:The planting calendar being discussed is this one:

https://garden.org/apps/calend...

In answer to the question of "where do we get the frost dates?" the answer is here:

https://garden.org/apps/frost-...

You can enter your zipcode into that second link to see all the data we have. We got the data from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information. Any errors in the dates would have come from NOAA.


I think we aren't questioning the data. I use the NGA guide myself. The question is more about the percentages of likelihood of frost and whether to plant at 50% chance of frost, or 20% likelihood.

I am tending toward 30-20% likelihood myself, but brave spirits can always be bolder with the data.

Hurray! I tip my hat to you.

North Central TX (Zone 8a)
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tx_flower_child
Jul 22, 2017 1:23 PM CST
Welcome! We love new members and love to share our gardening expertise experience.

I just have a regular, small old city lot. And yet I have micro climates. As a relatively new gardener, it drives me battier than I already am. That said, one of the locally owned nurseries sends out a monthly newsletter that starts with scientific-skip past it-weather-data from NOAA, etc. Not to mention inclusion of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion. Result? ENSO Alert System Status: Not Active

It then goes into 'what to do this month'. I actually read thru the June (or was it July?) issue. It listed most of what grows just in our area. Includes Spring and Fall planting dates, Air Temps for Day, Night and Day/Night, and Soil Temperatures (minimum, optimum range, and maximum). Then there's a detailed explanation of where the data came from.

First: Sources/links (All of these are must reads, and contain much more detailed information) which includes 'Planting dates come predominately from' (there are 3 sources)

Next: 'Other sources of planting dates considered:' (5 sources)

Then: 'Sources for Seed Germination Air and Soil Temperatures' (9 sources)

Note that he says All of these are must reads. Right.

Then a discussion titled 'So how do you test your soil temperature, and how did I do it?'

And for the grand finale there's an FYI about pumpkins and tomatoes.

Whew! So I figure it's all pretty much hit or miss.

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