Sunday, January 4, 2015

Frost Dates

One of the first things a gardener must do is figure out their "frost dates".  You need to know what the "last frost day" and the "first frost day" are for your garden. For some reason, this always gives my blonde brain a bit of exercise. My first thought is always that "last" means end of season rather the beginning of the gardening season. So, my way of keeping myself straight on this matter is:

The Last Shall Be First

So, how does one discover when their frost dates are? The Farmer's Almanac has a Frost Date table but if you don't live in one of the listed cities, it is not as accurate. It may suffice but there are also websites that will calculate it for you by zip code. Dave's Garden has one --simply put in your zip code and they give you the Last and First Frost Dates for 50% chance of frosts and dates for only a 10% chance of frost.

For example, for my area the average (50%) risk of frost is from November 5 through March 30. Meaning, that my Last Frost Date in Spring is March 30 and my First Frost Date in the Fall is November 5. I also learn that there absolutely will be frost risk from November 25th through March 13th. So, if I want to plant as early as March 13th or grow after November 5th, I need to have row covers to protect against frosty nights. But, in actuality, I need to have row covers or cloches available from March 30 to April 17 because there is a smaller risk of frost in that time period and also from October 17 to November 5th. Lastly, I'm advised that my garden growing season is roughly 220 days.

Next, I take this information to my new Week-by-Week Gardening Journal and start plugging in my dates. Counting back from the March 30th date of last frost, to the journal's starting point -- 20 weeks prior -- and I realize that I'm already way behind! Gasp! The Spring Garden actually starts at the end of November the previous year! Fortunately, These early weeks are gardening planning that I can get caught up with (hopefully) so that I actually plant out my Spring garden ON TIME this year.

Tasks for this week:
  1. catalog my existing seeds
  2. get a replacement glass tube for my rain gauge

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Homestead/Garden Journal & Phases of the Moon

So, it is that time of year. You know, when we make a bunch of New Years Resolutions that we can't possibly keep. A review of this blog will show that I've been guilty of just that in the past! Well, rather than Resolutions, this time, I'm just trying to put together a modest plan for doable goals and actions for this coming year. I have two humble goals for the homestead in 2015:

1. Keep a Homestead Journal -- an expanded Garden Journal
2. Practice the basics --get soil samples done, do a sun/shade study, try planting by the phases of the moon

I've been a member of "Organic Homestead & Gardening" for years. The listowner, Jon Pittman, has encouraged the use of the moon phases for planting and most other homestead activities. It's about time I give it a try. Farmers have used the moon phases and other information provided in The Farmer's Almanac for centuries so there is likely something to it. There is also good reasons for farmers and gardeners keeping journals noting the weather and garden conditions and activities. Why I haven't followed their lead? Good question. I guess I've been guilty of being a lazy gardener looking for the easy way out.

But, short cuts rarely are.

Today, I purchased Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener's Handbook. It is a Garden Journal as well as a Planner to (hopefully) keep me on track in terms of planting and harvesting. I'll be marking up the book making notes as well as posting here so you can follow along. So, hey, if I keep up on the garden journal, I'll also be keeping up with this blog better!