Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Marching towards spring

The usual suspects: clockwise from top left we have
flowering quince, star magnolia, forsythia, and cherry.

Around Medlock, March brings daffodils, forsythias, spring magnolias and quinces. It's been cold enough that most people are still in winter mode but we will soon see more daytime highs in the 60's, which can trigger a sudden urge to head over to Intown Ace Hardware and buy seeds and plants.

Our official last frost date is listed by various sources as anywhere from  March 24 to April 10 while NOAA calls the odds for March 26 - April 18. 

Below is some historical data to add perspective.
NOAA's data for last frost dates for our zipcode, 1880-2010. Click to enlarge or view full size.
UGA expands on the above to say the last frost dates were "none" for 2011, February 20 for 2012, and March 2, 2013. Note those late frost in 2000 and 2007...

Eager gardeners do well to focus on soil temperatures, as explained in this website:
"Planting too early, before the soil has had time to warm up, can lead to seed rot, slowed germination, poor growth and disease. For example, cucumber seeds usually take less than a week to germinate in a soil of 70 degrees F. They could take two weeks at 60 degrees F. Tomato transplants need a soil temperature above 60 degrees F for growth. Setting pepper plants out before the soil temperature is 70 degrees F could stunt their growth for the entire growing season."
The above website also lists ideal soil temperatures for common crops as follows:
"60 F - tomatoes, cucumbers, snap beans 
65 F - sweet corn, lima beans, mustard greens 
70 F - peppers, watermelons, squash, southern peas 
75 F - okra, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes"
For a map of daily soil temperatures (currently in the mid-40's), see UGA's Georgia Weather website.

And now that you know what you shouldn't be doing, check out Walter Reeve's monthly calendar to get a sense of what garden tasks are OK for March. For instance, it is time to start tomato seedlings indoors and plant roses (BigLots had a bunch for $3.50; caveat emptor).

If gardening is not your thing, there's no dearth of chores to consider during the month of March.

Coming up: daylight savings on March 10, and spring on March 20.