It is mid March in Missouri and we are still a little under a month away from our average last frost date. However all the trees are blooming and leafing, flowers are up everywhere, and I am planting my garden anyway.
Earlier this year the USDA changed the national climatic zone map, based on the period 1976-2005, using the criteria of average annual extreme minimum temperature during this period. This means that the new zones don’t even take into account the record temperatures we have seen over the past seven years. In other words, the new zones may be more accurate than they used to be, but still are not reflecting the true current climate across the country.
But what about the average last frost/freeze dates that most people plant by? These dates HAVE NOT been changed, yet. Pat Guinan, Missouri’s State Climatologist, says he expects the new frost/freeze document to be out sometime this year. The new frost/freeze information will be based on the period 1981-2010.
Until then, I am going with my gut. If spring wants to come early, I am going to plant my garden early. If an early spring means an early summer, then maybe by going ahead, I can beat the heat with lots of greens, broccoli, carrots and beets, and let the okra and tomatoes have the summer sun.
Written by Emma O’Connell, founder of Pick-A-Pepper.com.
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