Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Dear Spring, we miss you…
So the air temperature got down to 6 degrees last week (I’m in the southeastern portion of Minnesota)… that’s a record by the way. (Ya think!)
I was talking with a local nursery owner who said they’re opening today but “not really”. The day they really think they’ll be able to take care of their customers needs won’t happen until April 21st! (The latest he’s opened in his 50 years there). They still have piles of snow to move, the plants still need to be placed and there’s a lot more warming up that needs to take place! The Upper Midwest, and much of the country, has been in a deep freeze.
As gardeners, we’re itching to get out and DO something! Clean up perennials, get seeds started indoors, (some of you already have), clean up the lawn spots left by Fido… but many of us are still looking at either snow covered areas or muddy messes.
As for frost depth, this link from the National Weather Service predicts daily frost depths around the country. As I write this, the temperature is 10 degrees and, in my area in the middle of Minnesota, NWS says frost is at least a foot deep.
Frost depth reports on the National Weather Service site are taken from frost tube instruments, visual reports from construction or cemetery sites, or other types of electronic probes. Frost conditions are an important factor for hydrologic forecasting as frozen soil limits infiltration of water thereby generating more runoff from rain and snowmelt than soil that is not frozen. You can also check with your local county extension service!
Knowing soil frost condition is important for many activities, not just gardening and agriculture, but transportation (by that, I mean potholes!) which happens due to the heaving of the soil as it thaws and then freezes, etc.
The type of soil you have also plays a role. Clay soil holds water, which freezes, sandy soil drains quickly which, generally, means less water in the soil going into winter, therefore, thawing faster.
And finally…. it does appear that the weather may start cooperating…