Gardening · Homesteading · Urban Homesteading

Grow Zone 8b: 2 Weeks Till Last Frost

It’s April 1st.

With the recent changes in the USDA Grow Zones, if one searches for the last frost date for grow zone 8b, one might get the results of April 1st. I’d say this, though, based on years of watching the weather: That’s a huge April Fool’s joke; you’re risk-taking.

Why so?

Weather can be fickle. While the days are warming up, the nights are still cool. And come mid-week, the weather is predicted to have a chillier day with rain. Rain is not your friend in early Spring. It can drown the seeds, move them and cause havoc if it is hard rain, and seedling have just sprouted.

It’s one thing to have plants outside hardening off (that is a good thing to do!), but the soil in the ground or a raised bed is still cold.

plant starts in pots

(And I have a lot of plant starts outside now, getting ready to go in the ground)

It needs the nighttime temperatures to be higher than 40°:

While yes, many seeds will germinate at 35°, if nighttime temperatures are higher, they will germinate and grow faster. You will be on less of a struggle bus. Waiting just two weeks will make it much better. As we enter mid-April, the rains get gentler and less often. If you can wait until nighttime temps are near 50°, without dips, your plants and seeds will love you so much more.

And by April 15th, we will be over 13 hours of daylight—every minute counts in activating plant growth.

Instead, take the next two weeks to work on your garden beds:

  • Weed
  • Till as needed (I use a very light hand tiller to break up clumps of grass and weeds that are then hand removed)
  • Shape the rows
  • Lay down weed fabric to suppress growth on the edges if needed
  • Do pruning that is needed for any plants that are taking over spaces
  • Start more seeds inside or in your greenhouse – do this often!

We spent the last two days working on this beast. It isn’t entirely done, but I am nearly there. The story on this bed is that it was once raw land. Kirk ran the tractor over it five years ago, breaking it open (it had evergreen trees on it) and removing stumps and a lot of big rocks. Then, it became a test bed for plants and a chicken coop for a couple of years. Then, it sat empty last year and got covered in weeds. After weeding, doing a light till on top, laying down fabric, and making lines….it will soon be ready to plant.

I am working on another large bed this week as well. The fence is fixed, and weed suppression is in place. The final is removing the weeds and shaping the rows.

And removing rocks. Constantly removing rocks as they float up.

All to keep me occupied so that I resist the urge to plant everything…..

PS: And remember this sage advice, don’t plant tomatoes and peppers outside till at least mid-May in the PNW. They need warmth!