Finding Your Frost Free Dates
Choose the Best Regional Version of the Gardening by the Moon Planting Guide
To select the best regional version for your local climate, you should know your average frost free dates. Remember, average means that frost will occur up to fifty percent of the time before or after this date. It is not the last possible date of frost.
Frost is also effected by the proximity of water, wind shelter, altitude, and microclimates. These are the approximate areas recommended for each of our different versions. Speckled areas may require some adjustments of planting dates due to extremes of altitude, temperature or humidity.
Or, to find your average frost free dates, You could:
- Ask your neighbors, they may know about microclimate effects in your area
- Consult the local agricultural extension or master gardeners program
- Search weather.com (link) to find weather data by zip code (US only). Type in your zip code, weather related to Lawn and Garden, and look for Monthly Averages and Records.
- Below is a map of the USDA average last spring frost dates that will give you general guidelines.
Gardening by the Moon offers these choices for the printed calendar
Choose from these Average frost free dates:
- Long growing season— March 1 to November 15, zones 7, 8, 9 (Pacific time)
- Medium growing season— April 15 to October 15, zones 5, 6 (Eastern time)
- Short growing season— May 15 to September 30, zones 4, 5 (Eastern time)
- What are the weather patterns for the year? Will there be an early spring? This may mean you can adjust your planting dates as well.
- If you are on the border line between two versions, then what is your particular gardening style? Are you the type who likes to brag about the first tomato of the season? Do you start your own seedlings inside so they will be ready as soon as the weather warms, and use season extenders like cold frames or row covers? (You are going to love this calendar!) If you are one of these type gardeners, choose the longer season, and be ready with some protection on those occasional early and late frosts.
Stretch the Season
You can start seeds inside under lights or in a greenhouse, and have them ready to go in the ground when the time and temperature are right.
Don’t be afraid to plant beyond the usual times if it looks mild, or to use row covers and cold frames to extend the season.
Use the micro-climates created by overhead cover, ground slope or bodies of water to plant marginal crops that need a warmer spot.