Don't Miss these Planting Dates

Don't Miss these Planting Dates

Posted by Janice Stillman on 17th Jun 2019

Frost Dates, Planting Dates, and What the Weather Means for Your Garden

Learn how to get the best garden possible by keeping your eye on the sky, with your Old Farmer’s Almanac Weather Club Charter Membership.
Dear Weather Watcher,

On March 29, 1921, residents of Washington, D.C., started their day feeling the warmth of a spring Sun. In fact, at 82°F, the temperature was well above average for that time of year. By the end of the day, however, the temperature had dropped 56 degrees, to a frigid 26°F.

March is named for the Roman god of war, Mars. Had you lived in D.C. at the time, you may have felt like March was aptly named and was waging war on spring. March, however, is also a time of transition. This year, the spring equinox occurs on March 20 at 5:58 p.m., officially ushering in spring. It’s also in March (and early April) when most of the country will see the last spring frost and many of us will gather our rakes and hoes and spades and seeds and get our gardens into the ground.

Of course, you can’t talk about planting without talking about the weather, and that last spring frost date is a vital part of a successful garden. It takes only a light freeze to kill tender plants, and temperatures a mere 4 degrees below freezing may be widely destructive to most plants.

When are those last spring frost dates? Your local geography plays a big role, but generally speaking, if you live in these locations, it’s almost (or might already be) time to grow:
  • The last spring frost in Mobile, Alabama, is March 6.
  • In Savannah, Georgia, the last spring frost is March 15, and it’s 2 days later, March 17, in Monroe, Louisiana, and Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Moving into April, the last spring frost in Athens, Georgia, and Lawton, Oklahoma, is on April 3. It’s April 5 in Carlsbad, New Mexico, and April 6 in Eureka, California, while in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the date of the last spring frost is April 8.

Live in Omaha? Cedar Rapids? Somewhere else? You’ll have to take a look at this year’s Old Farmer’s Almanac to find out when you can expect the last frost of the season. Don’t worry, though: You get a brand-new copy of the Almanac as part of your Old Farmer’s Almanac Weather Club Charter Membership.

Planting Dates You Need to Know
If you haven’t already started seeds indoors, now is the time. Once the last spring frost has come and gone, those seedlings can go outside for some fresh air and sunshine. What else can you plant? How about asparagus?
Many asparagus beds last 20 years or more and may produce a half-pound of spears per foot of row over the 8-week harvest period in spring and early summer. Spring is the time to plant asparagus. The one thing to be aware of, however, is that to establish a strong root system, you shouldn’t harvest your asparagus in the first year.

There are plenty of crops that you can harvest this year, though. Throughout the southern, mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and northern Pacific parts of the U.S., here are some planting dates that are coming up very soon.
  • Broccoli: February 15 to March 15 in Area 1 (southern U.S.), and March 7–31 in Area 2 (mid-Atlantic, Northwest, and Midwest)
  • Carrots: February 15 to March 7 in Area 1, and March 7–31 in Area 2
  • Cucumbers: March 7 to April 15 in Area 1, and April 7 to June 15 in Area 2
  • Parsley: February 20 to March 15 in Area 1, and the entire month of March in Area 2 (so no excuses!)
  • Parsnips: February 20 to March 15 in Area 1, March 7–31 in Area 2, and if you’re in Area 3 (the rest of the U.S. and lower Canada), you can plant parsnips anytime in April!
Get the planting dates for three dozen popular crops, along with valuable tips on storing, jarring, and pickling, all as part of your Old Farmer’s AlmanacWeather Club Charter Membership.
Why Is It So Cold—and So Warm?
You’ve probably heard your local weather reporter blame bitterly cold weather on the polar vortex. But what is that? The polar vortex is a fast-flowing jet stream of air that circles the North Pole about 20 miles above Earth’s surface, in the stratosphere.

A strong polar vortex keeps most of the frigid Arctic air in the polar region, resulting in mild winter temperatures in the middle latitudes of the eastern U.S. and in northern Europe and Asia. Under normal winter conditions, the polar vortex is strong enough to keep the coldest air bottled up in the north.
In recent winters, exceptionally mild temperatures far in the north weaken the polar vortex and cause the jet stream to wobble. The once-trapped cold air then flows south, bringing icy temperatures to the U.S.

So, although it may seem counterintuitive, it’s that warmer weather in the northern regions that is responsible for record-breaking cold weather in the U.S.

Find out more about the polar vortex, what triggers these warming (and thus, cooling) events in the stratosphere, and what we might expect in the future, with your Old Farmer’s Almanac Weather Club Charter Membership.

With your Old Farmer’s Almanac Weather Club Charter Membership, you get everything you need to be ready for any weather, including The Old Farmer’s Almanac, our Weather Notebook, this year’s Weather Watcher’s Wall Calendar, and The Old Farmer’s Almanac EXTRA!, our monthly digital magazine that includes articles on weather, gardening, and other content not found in the print edition. It’s a great way to keep up-to-date on Almanacky topics throughout the year.

With an Old Farmer’s Almanac Weather Club Charter Membership, you’ll learn more about:
  • Current weather trends and fascinating insight into climate and weather topics
  • How to measure the windchill, and why the wind makes the air feel colder than it really is
  • How to measure wind speed using only your own powers of observation
  • The expected weather in your part of the country for each month of the year
  • Our method for predicting the weather (and how accurate we’ve been) since 1792
  • The Atlantic and Eastern North Pacific storm names for this year, plus which names have been retired