Wednesday, April 4, 2007

My date with the last frost.

According to many websites (and we know we like to copy one another so sometimes quantity is not quality), May the 6th is the average date of last frost in Ottawa. Seems early doesn't it? Then again, one of my friends always told me that he can't remember the last year that there was a frost in May in Ottawa.

What's interesting is that the traditional date that people plant out their frost tender plants, around these parts, is the long May weekend.

However, if you have been listening to any news media lately then you know that 'the weather's a changin'.

Maybe the wisdom of our elders to wait until near the end of May WAS sound advice but now?

I bank on around the first of May to harden off plants and the middle of May to plant them out, all the while keeping an eagle eye on the teasing longterm forcast.

This month, the weather is giving my overly mature brassica babies a hard time because we are expecting a late snowfall this week so I have to keep them cradled inside until the inclement weather passes lest they bolt or something horrible like that. At the moment they are getting root bound which is probably lowering their growth potential anyhow!

As an insurance, I've planted another crop to be ready for transplanting May 1st or so.

Shifting Frost Date

Many have said it, and let me repeat it, spring's coming earlier in these parts. Winter is also setting in later like our crazy winter this year where we didn't have snow cover until mid-January!!

What does this mean for the planet... sudden change is bad.

What does this mean for the gardener? Maybe grandfather's calender wisdom is outdated. How about planting in terms of other garden signs like plant out carrots when oak leaves are the size of squirrels' ears (made up... by the way). I actually don't know any of these signs but I think I will try and keep track this year to impart my briefdom (couldn't be wisdom as it would be too fresh) to you all for next year.

However if anyone knows any planting rules based on seasonal observations then please share.

Frost date fun facts for Ottawa
According to CRIACC

Average last frost: April 29th (you must be kidding!)
Earliest last frost: April 11th, 1998
Latest last frost: June 9th, 1980

Average frost-free period: 156 days
Shortest frost-free period: 110 in 1980
Longest frost-free period: 182 in 1990


Kate said...

When I gardened in Ottawa, I rarely waited till the May long weekend to put my plants in. Usually I was well on the way in early May - I don't remember any frosts after that date. (My serious gardening took place between 1990 & 2001 in Ottawa)The thing is that we should keep track of these dates ... I never think to. For some reason, I figure I will remember from year to year. Over time, it becomes a jumble of dates.

Here it is a completely different story. I wouldn't dare put any tender plants in till at least the long weekend ... and depending on what the weather is like, sometimes not till into June.

Thank you for the comment in my blog. It is exactly one year ago today that Hazel died ... we don't forget our pets like Penny, do we?

jodi said...

I had the pleasure of being in your fair city last May around the middle of the month, for the Professional Writers Association of Canada annual conference. The city was glorious; tulips in full bloom, everything green, the grounds at the Governor General's residence vividly was very warm! Then I was back for a few hours in late Sept-early Oct (I forget which day--it was a garden tour by train and I did five cities in six days and a whole lot of trains, and didn't stay in Ottawa that trip, but it was again magnificently lovely and mild.

Could it be, perhaps, all that hot air that emanates from Parliament Hill?

Lovely blog; I'll come back after i finish off the current spate of deadlines. Glad you share your eclectic enthusiasms with a wider audience.

cheers, jodi

Sally said...

Many gardeners use the moon phase for their planting guides. I never have, but then I'm a truly disorganized gardener. Nice blog - came by way of The Inadvertent Gardener.