Updated: Apr 23
Believe me! I am the biggest April Fool when it comes to gardening. I really don't have any patients and even less in my younger years. There were years that I've been ready to plant at first sight of temperatures staying above freezing for just a few days, only to lose some very promising tomato seedlings. Don't do it!
We all grow wiser with age, but patience is something you learn from your mistakes while being impatient! Lol
Spring has sprung! The equinox has occurred! But does that mean it is time to plant? Are you sure? What about the weather where you live? Where do you live? What's your zone? What is a "zone"? Is it still cold there? Was it below freezing last night? Will it freeze again this year?
I learned to make my planting decisions by using the answers to all of those questions.
Step 1: Where do you live? Your 5 digit zip-code is all you need to learn the probable last frost date for your area.
Take your digits here... https://www.almanac.com/gardening/frostdates Yep! The good ol' Farmer's Almanac. Since no one can completely predict the future, I follow the voices of experience. They haven't steered me wrong yet...or my dad before me!
So on that sight, you typed in your zip-code and up popped a few tid-bits of very useful information: Altitude - If you are planting a high altitudes, be aware of what you plant. Do your research about the hardiness of your plant choices. (You probably shouldn't expect to grow a Magnolia Tree in Alaska.)
First and last frost dates - Mine are April 30 (yesterday) for the last frost of the winter. So it's probably okay to plant today, but check the weather reports and be ready to cover everything if they call for a late season frost. The first frost date coming next fall is October 9. I always try to have everything harvested and cleaned up by then. Year before last, I didn't get everything harvested in time, so I ended up covering my tender lavender flowers with tarps through a night of frost to give me one more day to cut it all for use rather than lose it all to frost.
Step 2: Find out your zone here... https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/
I live in zone 6b, in PA. I can see by the zone map that my area has an extreme low of -5 degrees Fahrenheit. (Not a good temperature for plants or me!) Your zone will always be an important piece of information throughout the year. If you are buying your plants, or seeds, the packaging may have a little chart printed on it that could read, This plant is hardy from zone 8b - 7b. So you would know you probably shouldn't buy Mom that Gardenia Plant for her to grow in Springfield, Illinois (Zone 5b). You may find out that what was your favorite flower can not grow in the high summer temperatures you get in the deep south. Perhaps you'll find a new favorite plant in your zone.
I think these few bits of knowledge are quite enough to guide you through this, "When to plant?" and "What to plant?" time of the year.
*Another tip for fun - Plan a trip or three to several plant farms and/or nurseries a little outside of the area where you live. I've found that in our area of several small towns, most of the garden centers carry all the same plants. I look online in the Spring to find other places to buy plants that may be just an hour or two outside of our area. Perhaps a plant and garden event that sell plants or has workshops or speakers. Spring is the time of rebirth! The birds and bees and flowers and leaves are back! And so are we, as we emerge, squinting into the light, shedding our winter sweat pants and cardigans. So grab your boots and hat and get out there!!!
It's time to have some fun Playing In The Dirt!!