How do I use my average frost dates?
Helping home gardeners grow their best garden is our mission. To do that, we suggest using your average last frost date to help determine the best time to sow your seeds. Using your average last frost dates is different from referencing your USDA Hardiness Zone. While the hardiness zone does tell you your average coldest winter temperature, it doesn't tell you much more about your climate or growing season. Your average last frost date is the average, historical date frost occurs in your area and it begins your frost-free growing season. This date guides your sowing calendar, and in short-season areas, it may guide your variety choices. Check your seed packets or our Indoor and Outdoor Sowing Guides to fill in your sowing calendar.
How do my average last and first frost dates help me choose varieties?
Once you know your average last frost date in late winter or spring and your average first frost date in late summer or fall, you can count the days to see how long your growing season is. Our vegetable packets list the "days to maturity," which means the number of days it will take to produce a crop in ideal conditions. Knowing your average frost dates are also helpful when timing ornamental sowings.