How soon can we start planting this spring?

When should you start planting?

Is the perennial question.

Partly, this depends on the what it is we have in mind. Heat loving plants won’t take a late frost, and even without a frost they won’t grow much without adequate heat.

Plants such as lettuce and spinach prefer cooler temperatures, so these can be planted outdoors sooner.

Whatever you plant, you want to check that the ground your planting into has warmed up enough for the particular type of plant. Check your seed packet for recommended soil temperature for good germination and growth.

And, even if the ground is warm when you plant, keep an eye tuned to the weather. Monitor night time lows, and watch out for stretches of colder weather. In this part of the province, just expect to get some cold nights and even frosty ones throughout spring.

Here in southern Ontario, it’s a safe bet that spring will not be a smooth sailing transition from winter to summer. There will be ups, downs and some storms to be sure… maybe even a late snowfall similar to what we experienced last season.

The recent memory of the late spring record cold snap of May 9th last year, reminds those of us itching to get out and plant, just how unpredictable spring weather really can be.

For us, spring officially begins with the vernal equinox each year. That’s when daylight and night hours are equal as days lengthen through March. In Finland and Sweden, it’s a different story. They determine the dates of the seasons in a different way.

Shifting Seasons

They don’t follow the calendar at all. Instead they go by local temperatures, so the start and end dates of each season are based on the local climate.

As the climate changes… the dates for the seasons change.

It’s interesting to consider the trends that are showing up there. Based on climate models and comparison to the seasons during 1971 to 2000 most of northern Europe is predicted to experience a rise of 2C by mid century, 2040 to 2069.

If current patterns and trends continue summer would start 2 weeks earlier and last weeks longer. Colder mountain areas, Lapland and the coast of the Arctic Ocean, could have summers as much as a whole month longer than they are now.

So What Does This Mean For You

Are our winters getting shorter?

Locally, we’re experiencing weather changes as well. Recent winters have brought us less snow, yet more rain. Our springs have been generally colder and unsettled, with more variable conditions day to day.

While our growing season goes from spring through fall, winter weather does impact our growing conditions. With this most recent mild winter coming to an end, the conditions predicted by the trend to shorter milder winters become more relevant as we plan for growing food this year.

When to plant, will be related to our local micro climate, ground conditions and soil type.

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