Ask a Question forum: Frost Dates Chart

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Eagan, MN
Skratazoid
Jan 9, 2018 11:17 AM CST
Hi there, question regarding the following page on frost dates:
https://garden.org/apps/frost-...

Your text before the chart reads "For spring, there is an 80% chance that you will be past the danger of a hard 24° freeze on March 30, but very light surprise frosts of 36° can still hit until around April 30. Do you like to live on the edge? You have a 50% chance of being past 32° frost by April 30."

I don't think that interprets the chart correctly, because that would mean on March 27, there is "a 90% chance that you will be past the danger of a hard 24 degree freeze", and it makes so sense that an earlier spring date has a higher chance of being past the danger of a freeze.

Should it instead read "For spring, there is an 80% chance you could still have a hard 24° freeze on March 30, and very light surprise frosts of 36° could potentially still hit until about May 4. Do you like to live on the edge? You have a 50/50 chance of having 32° frost around April 30.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 9, 2018 11:31 AM CST
I'm not sure I understand the distinction you are drawing. It is important to understand that given the vicissitudes of Mother Nature, it is best to use these charts as GENERAL guidelines. The guides help YOU decide when you think it is safe for doing your spring plantings without any guarantees. If you are eager to get started early, the risk is higher than if you are more conservative and hold off a few weeks.

It is pretty clear now that past weather patterns are in the process of changing and are no longer as reliable for predicting the future. Mother Nature still rules!
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Jan 10, 2018 2:49 PM CST
Skrat : Welcome! 😀
Good question 👍.
For best planting dates/safe, last frost dates ! Don't go by what's listed hear, or what the USDA says. Both, have it all wrong. I'm sorry to say.
Best person to ask, is a local farmer. I sure, allmost any of them would be glad to talk to you, especially , in the off season. That's there job, most love teaching and learning from others. A small town, diner on outskirts of your city is great place.
You can tell, they will be sitting together, talking farming. Strike up a conversation with them. You can learn a lot.👍😀

2nd choice, is Sunset, Western Gardeners Book.

3nd choice, is reliable local nursery.

4rd choice is , seed packet charts.

😎😎😎




Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Jan 10, 2018 3:29 PM CST
I agree with you, the wording is confusing. But as Will said above, get past the wording to the meaning, which is "It's riskier to plant, the earlier you dare to try".

The watch word for home gardeners is "Watch the Weather forecast". All those averages, charts and even the zone designations are only guidelines based on years of data and "historical averages" over a wide area. What counts is what's coming to your garden, not what happened in the last 20 years.

I mean, even down here in the tropics of mid-Florida we have had a cold front (nights into the 40's) as late as early April that took out a lot of things we were usually safe to plant in late February. Most people here just plant regardless because we do all have frost covers for our most valued plants.

Another good thing to learn is the micro-climates within your own property. Some of the warmer, more protected spots can support new plantings much earlier than an open, exposed bed. The last 3 houses I've lived in had at least a 10deg. temperature discrepancy between the back yard and the front yard on a cold night. The south side of our house in Utah was virtually a "frost free" zone some winters because it got sun all day, the house walls were brick which held the warmth well, and there were basement windows radiating warmth out to the plants at night as well.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Jan 10, 2018 3:33 PM CST
If you are a new gardener you will learn the hard way by either having warm early for year and then getting burned or having a cold streak and years later find you are waiting past when you could start.
It is a crap shoot. Always has been and always will be.
Back fifteen or so years ago when I thought we had , had, a real shift in area climate, old fashioned real winter returned and I was glad I had not planted trees outside their normal zone.
I have found Farmers Almanac to be as reliable as the weather service.
Eagan, MN
Skratazoid
Jan 12, 2018 2:57 PM CST
Thank you all for your responses! The reason for my question was that I've been planting near the middle of May, and thought it was a bit of a late start. I really appreciate all the feedback and tips. :)
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Jan 12, 2018 4:19 PM CST
Hi, again Strat 😀
Mid May sounds about right, for alot of Montana. Another good judge, is if you live in large city or country. Have a feeling for the weather. When stores get there summer vege plants in, it's probably safe. There's always the old fashion Hot Caps, for excellerated growth, and frost protection. 👍
In past 40 years, ive learned, I can push my seed planting date up one month. Plants are slow, at first, but are rooted and take off , when weather gets warm. 👍
😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Jan 12, 2018 7:43 PM CST
Skratazoid said:Thank you all for your responses! The reason for my question was that I've been planting near the middle of May, and thought it was a bit of a late start. I really appreciate all the feedback and tips. :)

I have had years where I had the whole garden in by April 1st and got away with, not often; I have had years when I did not plant most of the garden till after June 1st because I had to wait that long.

Where you are at you do not have to worry too much about early Sept. frost but it is best to figure your season as 100 days.
You will not get burnt too often that way.
Where you are a late spring is a bigger annoyance than early frost.
That said, the only way to find out how far you can push your season is to try and fail and try again.

Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Seed Starter Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Leftwood
Jan 12, 2018 9:05 PM CST
Getting back to the original problem, it's hard to believe everyone still thinks it's OK to have website explanation that is so outright confusing. I guess there must be some regional vernacular meaning that I am not aware of. The way I learned English, an 80% chance of something means that something more likely, not less. Therefore, I (also) think the site's explanation is completely opposite of what it should be.
Skratazoid said:it makes no sense that an earlier spring date has a higher chance of being past the danger of a freeze.

Well said.

@dave
[Last edited by Leftwood - Jan 12, 2018 9:06 PM (+)]
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