Frost officially over today, but be careful
May 15, 2002
Officially, today is the last frost day for the season. But that doesn’t mean gardeners should dive right in.
While temperatures are anticipated to remain above freezing for the next week or two, Cooperative Extension Educator Joanne Skelly said gardeners need to be aware of the climates in their own neck of the woods.
“You have to know your own microclimate and go with that,” she said.
In Western Nevada, microclimates can range from warm to cool within a single valley, with even wider variances from one valley to the next.
“In town, for example, where there are lots of trees and asphalt, that is a heat island,” she said. “It is generally much warmer in town and I would say you’re safe after May 15.”
However, Skelly lives in Washoe Valley where conditions are much cooler.
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“Especially in low areas along a creek where the cool air sinks,” she said. “The question is does the weather move through your yard, or does it sit there?”
Gardeners in cool microclimates should be prepared to baby their plants through the end of the month.
“It depends on how diligent you want to be on protecting them,” she said. “If you expect to just plant, then you need to wait.”
Protect plants by covering them with newspaper, blankets or upside-down plastic pots, Skelly said.
“Make sure that if you use plastic, that it doesn’t touch the plant,” she said. “Otherwise, the cold will transfer straight to the plant. You need to create an air pocket around the plant.”
Cold weather plants like potatoes, parsley and cauliflower are OK to plant early. Other vegetables like green beans, corn and tomatoes should wait a bit longer.
Skelly suggested starting corn indoors and then transplanting it outside to get a head start on the season.
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