Creating a Garden Calendar – Day 1: Getting Started

We are working our way through a series called “Creating a Garden Calendar“.  If this is your first time joining us, welcome.  You are not too late to join us.  Grab a calendar, pen, and beverage of choice.  You will be right where we are in no time.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas Day yesterday.  For most the next few days will bring some rest.  For others, it may be back to life as normal.  Either way, I am going to take this series easy.  It probably could be done quicker.  However, it is the end of the year.  Let’s not end this year and start the next in a rush.

It feels as if my 2012 garden just ended.  Yet, next week is the New Year.  That means a new gardening season is just around the corner.  Depending on which part of the country you are in, that may mean less than a month from now or 5+ months down the road.  Either way, in the spirit of getting things done early we are going to create a calendar for the 2013 gardening season.  By the time we are done with this series, and it will only take two weeks, you should have a great start to your garden planning.

Our focus will be on vegetable and fruit gardens, but you can adjust it to meet your needs.  As we go, please leave your comments sharing how it is going and any other information you think would be benefitial.  There may be things I forget along the way, so please share.  This a one of the great benefits to having an online group working on this together.

Day 1:  If you don’t have a calendar yet, then that is the first thing you need to do.  It doesn’t need to be fancy, it just need enough room to write under the dates as we go.

If you already have your calendar then we are going to make the first four entries on it today.  We are going to mark the last (spring) and first (fall) frost dates for your zone.  Then mark the last and first freeze dates, if this applies to you. These dates are not set in stone and will flucuate depending on weather.  They are good guides though. Your local land grant college’s extention office should have this information if you can’t understand the maps.  You can also look here: – once you click on the link, you can choose exactly which area you want by looking at the listing on the left.  There are also choices for Canada.  Once you have the area (state/provence) you want there will be further choices on the right.  this includes maps for frost dates.  These are pretty detailed maps, so zoom in to the area you need.

NOAA U.S. Climate Normals

Dave’s Garden allows you to find your dates by entering your zip code.  I could see where this would be useful if you happen to live in a microclimate that can not be seen on the large maps.

Frost dates for Canada

That’s it for today.  Wasn’t too hard was it.  Congratulations on starting your 2013 planning.  Just think, you are already off to a great start and the new year hasn’t technically even begun yet!

Note: You may run into something similar to what I did, there are differing “last frost date” days noted for your area.  As it is hard, if not impossible, to measure frost it is usually based on temperatures from past years.  So in actuallity the dates are averages. You may live in a sheltered area and so the frost won’t affect you as much as someone who has no protection.  Your last frost date may then come sooner.  If you are unsure, check several different sources, then note the range of dates they report.  Remember, the frost date is based on past temperatures, which can change depending on where the temperature is taken.

Some years the date is sooner and every gardener feels behind.  Some years it comes later and some gardeners have to replant or cover their gardens.  If you see the picture below, I actually  marked ranges of dates to remind myself that there is no one set date.

Tomorrow, Day 2, we will furthur break down these dates.  It will also be a quick activity, taking less than 5 minutes.