When to Plant

— Written By and last updated by Elisabeth Purser
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Planting, Gardening in NC, NC Weather, North Carolina Weather, When Does it Frost in NC, NCAA, Union County, Charlotte
On March 13, Union County had a hard freeze and, even though I covered my blueberries with 3 layers of a floating row cover, all of the flowers on the two plants that were in full-bloom were killed. I have hopes for fruit from the other plants that were still in the bud stage. I visited a couple of local wholesale growers last week on March 10 and one who had large hanging baskets and annual plants outside was busy moving them in before the freeze. I have heard one grower say that you can often expect a cold spell around the full moon before Easter. He said he has monitored the past decade or more and it almost always occurs.

This time of year there are many warm season vegetable transplants for sale at the garden centers, hardware, farm supply, and box stores. Warm season crops not only need frost free nights, they need warm soil. You can plant these crops now, and take steps to protect them from frost, but until the soil warms, they will not take off and grow. Cool season crops like radish, lettuce, cabbage, and carrot need soil temperature of 45 degrees. Tomatoes and beans prefer the soil to be at 60 degrees. And pepper and eggplant need soil temperature of 70 degrees. You can purchase an inexpensive soil thermometer to monitor the soil temperature for less than $20 at your local garden center or via mail order. The average last frost date for this area is April 12 and can vary about two weeks either way from year to year. Last year we had a hard freeze on April 28. So, if you plant your warm season vegetables early, be prepared to protect them if frost is predicted.

Join the Master Gardener℠ volunteers of Union County for the April Successful Gardener program on April 7, at 7 p.m. Debbie Dillion will be the speaker and will be talking about planting vegetable and annual seeds & transplants and how to care for them. The program is free, but registration is required, as it will be held virtually. To register, visit the Master Gardener℠ volunteers of Union County website.