FredTalks – A Guy Named Jack

Contributed By: EEL Team Mary Follin
March 6, 2024

by Environmental Enhancements

Jack Frost, a Gardener’s Nemesis

The Problem

Hey Fred, My wife hates when I say this, but isn’t there an old wives tale about when the last frost will be? I’m open to something more scientific, but I can’t seem to pin down the date to start planting. Most of the time, I take my chances and start on the early side, but then I find myself checking the weather all day, hoping the temperature doesn’t dip below 32. Makes me a little edgy, so I’d like to do it differently this year. Suggestions on when to plant?

Fred Says

Although “Thunder in February means frost in April on the same day” has a nice ring to it, I prefer to use the longterm weather forecast to figure out the best time to plant. Anytime after oh, say, April 25, we can usually predict a warming trend that will take us into spring weather for good.

Once you feel confident it’s time to plant, start with the slow growers, like dahlias, cannas lilies, and ranunculus. These delicate flowers can’t tolerate frost, but are best planted immediately following the last one.

Warm weather vegetables can also go in the ground pretty soon after the last frost: beans cucumbers, peppers, okra, squash, corn tomatoes, and zucchini, especially if you want them to ripen in time for your summer suppers in June.

If you’re chomping at the bit to get started now, why not plant some cold weather vegetables? Beets, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, parsnips, radishes, spinach, peas, and turnips should all go into the ground before the last frost. This will give you something to do while you wait.

The mystery of Mother Nature is how unpredictable she can be. After deciding when to plant, if you really want to enjoy gardening, you just gotta let it go.

Please reach out if you’d like to hear about our landscaping services! 703.421.7400 or

Fred Peratt is president of Environmental Enhancements Inc., an award-winning landscaping company serving the DC metro area since 2001. Fred is well-known in the landscaping industry for his dedication to innovation, teamwork, and the highest standards of workmanship.

Recent Posts

Share This