Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Final Countdown

As the weather stays warmer (especially at night) we get the urge to start planting everything. I would like to remind you of some statistics about Colorado.

Taken from the Colorado State extension:

Last spring frost date confusion - People quote different last spring frost dates for the same area depending on their risk tolerance. Last spring frost dates are important to home Gardeners to help them plan when to set out frost-sensitive annual flower, vegetable and even tropical container plants.
Last Denver frost dates: In Denver the last spring frost date at a 50 percent confidence level is May 2nd with a growing season of 157 days. If you want to be 80 percent statistically confident it's May 12th and 90 percent confident, May 18th. All dates are based on 47 years of data. The latest last frost date was June 2, 1951.
Last Colorado Springs frost dates: Dates are not very different considering their 6170 feet elevation versus Denver's 5,290 feet. It is May 5th for 50 percent confidence (153 days), May 13th for 80 percent confidence and May 18th for 90 percent confidence based on 25 years of data. Their latest date was June 3, 1951.
Last Castle Rock frost dates: Gardeners at 6,250 feet Castle Rock can plan on a last frost date of May 23 with a 50 percent degree of confidence. In Fort Collins, it's May 10, Boulder, May 5 and Brighton, May 2.

This is essentially saying to pay attention to the weather forecasts. Gardeners usually use the rule of thumb to not plant much before Mother's Day since it falls around the last frost date. After Mother's Day, go crazy!!! The extremely cold hardy perennials can be planted (think of things that you see with either lush looking foliage right now...or even blooms) but wait another week or two for veggie, annual and less hardy perennials to be planted. If you go out this weekend to nurseries or The Home Depot et al try to write down names of the roses that you love...because you shouldn't be getting them...yet. If you DO fall in love with some and just have to buy it, make sure you harden them off before planting them. In nurseries (let's say Picadilly...he he) we keep our roses in extreme warm conditions. Partly because we pot up our roses and we want them to be flowering and looking beautiful by Mother's Day...and partly because it takes them awhile to be hardy for the cold! We have now just moved some roses into our regular greenhouse, but again, it is a sheltered environment.

If you are like me, and have no patience attention to the forecasts and if you've planted your containers already, bring them inside the garage or group them together and throw a sheet over them for protection from the cold.

Mother's Day is right around the corner! T- minus 12 days and counting!!!


MILLIE said...

Hey. Can you imagine being one of those homesteaders out there in Colorado, or even some of the east coast first arrivals? Probably starving and eating wild foods that pretty much sucked--putting a garden out in the wilderness, and not being able to turn on the weather channel to see when to cover up your plants? Just a thought I've been having. Thank you!!Weather Channel!!

Seasonal Wisdom said...

Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. It's tough to wait until that last frost date finally comes. Where I'm from -- that date is May 8. Not a minute too soon either. ;)