When you need a crystal ball: for a "Last Frost Date"

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Thu, Feb 20, 2014 - 1:22pm

Winter storms Leon  (Jan. 28-29) and Pax (Feb. 12-13) dumped ice and snow in my area during our earliest USDA Zone 8 spring planting times, and another ice storm is forecast for March 1.  What do you do when Mother Nature will not cooperate with the recommendations on the seed packet? It depends on the crop.

1. Wait and plant late. That's what I did with our peas and snow peas this year. The yields may be less before the plants burn out from the heat, but they will still be worth the garden space. Radishes and lettuce went in yesterday, Feb 19, three weeks late. Since I plant radishes and leaf lettuce every two weeks all year (except the 3-week dead zone in the middle of the summer), I missed my first couple of plantings but it's no big deal.

2. Start indoors and transplant. This really depends on what you are growing, and whether or not it transplants well. I'm doing more lettuces indoors in case the ones I planted Feb 19 don't make it through the forecast March 1 ice storm, but radishes don't transplant well and they grow fast, so they are not in my indoor seed trays. I've found that carrots transplant well and have a flat of them started that will go into the garden in a couple of weeks. We will see if the beets and celery transplant well, but I have a half-flat seed tray each of  them as an experiment.

3. Give up on a crop for this year, or plant something else. In my area, it is too late to plant spinach. Given the crazy weather, we are going to do without spinach this year. It does not transplant well and we have other dark-green leafy vegetables, like kale, Swiss chard, beet tops, snow pea leaves and nasturtium leaves that can take it's place nutritionally. It is very important to have alternative crops for various nutrients. So we not only plant carrots for the beta carotene; we also plant sweet potatoes, yellow mini vine tomatoes, and banana peppers. And we have various sources of vitamin C: mulberries, strawberries, ground cherries (new for us!), blackberries, blueberries and tomatoes will have to supply that need since our cold-hardy orange succumbed to scale insects before the uncharacteristically cold winter.

A final note. If you start relying on your garden, you have to plan extra stores to get you though a colder-than-usual spring! We still have home-canned 3-bean salads, jalapenos, dried green beans, homemade tomato sauce, dried figs, canned peaches and pears, and other veggies like pickles from last year. But we ran out of frozen, diced green peppers from the freezer and it was painful to pay $1.99 a pound for things I could grow practically for free. It would be a lot more painful if I was dependent on my stored food and droughts in CA (and Brazil) or frost in FL--and/or a hike in transportation fuel costs--made such foods unavailable or too expensive to purchase.

3 Comments

snow's picture
snow
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 19 2011
Posts: 10
Crystal Ball

Wendy, I love the idea of canning 3bean salad would you mind sharing your recipe? 

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1982
3 bean salad

The hardest ingredient to get is wax beans - you have to grow those yourself. But the recipe is a mix of 1/3 wax beans, 1/3 green beans (both blanched) 1/3 red kidney beans. Fill hot pint jars with the beans and then add a (shaken) mixture of 1/3 cider vinegar, 1/3 water, and 1/3 Wishbone Italian dressing until you are a 1/4 inch below the screwtop of the jar. Process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Yes, I cheat and use store-bought dressing but it's sooo good that way.

snow's picture
snow
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 19 2011
Posts: 10
3 bean

Thanks Wendy, I think I will use green and red pepper in place of wax bean.  We are on the road a lot and I need salads that will last and that I can grow myself,   Until I read your post I did not think of canning my own "3 bean" salad.

 

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments