Gardeners mark the growing season according to the last spring and first fall frost dates for their area. The last spring frost date is the average date when temperatures dip below freezing for a particular area. It is a useful benchmark for timing when to start seeds so transplants will be ready to move to the garden at the proper time. The last spring frost date is also useful for timing transplanting: Cold-tolerant crops like cabbage can be transplanted to the garden several weeks before the last spring frost, whereas heat-loving plants like peppers shouldn't be moved outdoors until several weeks after it. The first fall frost date is the date when temperatures typically dip below freezing for the first time. It is used to time sowing and planting for fall crops. Keep in mind that these dates are based on averages, and the last spring or first fall frost in your garden in any given year may occur before or after the published dates for your area. Check the Internet or your local Cooperative Extension Service for information on your area. Reprinted from The Veggie Gardener's Answer Book Copyright 2008 by Barbara W. Ellis, with permission from Storey Publishing.
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