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  • Writer's pictureInes Batterton

How I learned about frost dates

November. November is usually not the month people think about gardening. The gardens have been cleaned up, leaves have been raked on the beds and the garden is now resting under a thick layer of mulch. Our perennials have time to rest and lie dormant until the sun’s warmth tickles them awake come springtime. Most of the vegetable gardens are empty though and only some gardeners might still grow under hoops or in greenhouses, but for the most part we have the feeling gardening season is over.

We gardeners do the same as our plants. We draw inwards, stay mostly indoors, start to prepare for Christmas and do all the things we don’t take our time for during the busy growing season. For some gardeners this feels like losing a part of them. No sowing and growing outside, not enough fresh air, no more buzzing bees and no more digging with your hands in warm, oh-so-good smelling soil. What now? You could get depressed thinking of it, but I have good news. For me personally gardening never ends. You are always gardening, even when you are planning next year’s oasis (and of course there is always the indoor garden option). I divide the year into 4 seasons: cool season (spring), warm season (summer), cool season no.2 (fall) and planning season (winter).

When I started gardening in our new garden in Hawkesbury back in 2020, I started from scratch in a completely new environment. Naturally I searched for advice, for some local guidelines to follow along. Frankly, besides some rough tips from the Farmer’s Almanac and lots of good advice from Niki Jabbours books, there was nothing I could apply right away to my particular garden in my particular climatic condition. I learned about growing zones, a concept with whom I was not familiar, since we don’t use it in Europe. Initially I was confused if it was applicable to vegetable gardening and if it would help me to plan my garden. Fairly quickly I realized, growing zones don’t make much sense for me, because I don’t really care about the ‘average minimum temperature’ in winter.

During my research I remembered my grandmothers always going on about the ‘Eisheiligen’ (‘ice saints’), a Garman farmer’s rule to determine the last frost in spring. After that particular time, they’d plant their tomatoes outside. This made sense to me, and it made me realize, I care about the last and the first frost date and how hot it can get in summer! All of a sudden, garden planning was much easier and logical with visible results.

When I became a Gardenary certified garden coach I deepened this approach and refined this technique for my regional clients. Right from the beginning, my goal was to provide my clients with a personalized growing guide for their region for all seasons, which they can follow along year after year. Eventually I got the idea to make this knowledge available to more people and the garden planner idea was born.

It is a practical tool, which helps you to elevate your planning, tracking and growing throughout the local growing seasons and to become a self-confident and successful gardener. You can find it in The Review shop and on our homepage I hope you find it helpful, and you enjoy using it for planning the growing season of 2024.

Keep on gardening!

This article has been published in our local newspaper 'The Review' on November 22, 2023.

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