Is it too early to begin spring planting? Wait until after Tax Day!

You may have spring fever from the recent balmy conditions, which may inspire you to plant your spring garden. Don't do it yet, though.

Hold off on those plans -- or have a way to protect your plants through the rest of the season.

Average Last Spring Freeze

Temperatures will remain variable over the next few weeks, and a killing frost/freeze is not out of the question.

Average date of last frost for the entire state of Alabama. (Source: UA Department of Geography)

Average date of last frost for the entire state of Alabama. (Source: UA Department of Geography)

Keep in mind that cold-sensitive plants, like tomatoes, do not do well even if the air temperature is above 32 degrees (gardenguides.com says that tomato plants can get injured when temperatures are in the low 40s).  Even in sheltered areas, like covered porches, chilly temperatures can harm sensitive plants. Be sure to have a way of bringing them inside, or develop a way to protect them if they are already established in the soil.

The "usual" rule of thumb is to wait until after Easter to put your sensitive plants in the ground -- but sometimes, Easter arrives early, much earlier than the average final frost for the region.

So if you haven't started your spring garden yet, try to hold off until mid-to-late April. A good rule of thumb is to wait until after Tax Day (April 15).  Some say you should wait until May 1 to be safe.

It's okay to plant cool season crops now, such as collards, lettuces, onions and kale.

According to the National Weather Service, the average "last freeze" date for the Huntsville area is April 2, though the latest freeze on record took place on May 7, 1944. The average date fluctuates throughout the Tennessee Valley, but April 15th is a good, rough guideline. Below is a list of various average dates for last freezes throughout the Tennessee Valley.

SpringDate

A personal (brown thumb) story
When I lived in Atlanta, I used to grow container vegetables in my back porch area. During the spring of 2007, we had a very early and very prolonged period of spring-like weather in late February through March. I put my tomatoes into the containers in mid March... And the first week of April, we had a cold snap that sent temperatures below freezing. I lost my tomatoes :-/ And I learned the hard way to wait until Tax Day :-)
What about you? Do you have any green thumb tips, or brown thumb stories? Email us: weather@whnt.com.

– Christina Edwards

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