To plant, or not to plant

by Wayne Watts
 Spring has arrived and the local green houses are bursting with plants. But, is it too early to plant or not?
 Paul Horton, manager of the Ross Seed True Value store in Chickasha is getting ready for their 25th Annual Plant Daze coming up Thursday, March 30, Friday March 31 and Saturday April 1.
 “It’s our busiest day of the year,” said Horton. “We have been working feverishly getting our plants in and our specials marked. It’s that time when the temperatures on some days in Oklahoma is like summer and the next day it is freezing, but people are ready to get to work in their gardens and yards”.
 Horton predicts that with the high cost of groceries and foods, that a lot of people will want to try gardening to offset some of that expenditures in this economy.
 Also, Hillcrest Growers, located at Verden are now open and their half a dozen greenhouses are bursting with color. They specialize in mostly flower and bedding plants that are climatized for this area since they grow their own. They are well known for beautiful hand crafted patio pots and hanging baskets. Gerald and Joyce Smith and their family have been working to get green houses ready for customers.
 “Those high winds a couple weeks ago took the top off of one of our greenhouses. We had to scramble to get the plants out of there and moved to an intact overflow greenhouse and then get the cover back on that unit. But, with help from family and friends we did get it done” said Gerald.
 Hillcrest Growers will have their Open House on Saturday April 8th, however the facility is open now for earlybird sales.
 Some people have already been planting onions, potatoes, cabbage and other cool weather plants that can stand a drop in temperatures.
 “It’s okay to purchase your plants now while the selection is best,” said Horton, but you may want to wait another week or so to put them in the ground or be prepare to cover them on some cold nights.”
 There are plants available as well at Atwoods, Walmart and other local businesses.
What are 2023 Frost Dates?
 The average Last Spring Frost is reported at April 10 for Chickasha, Oklahoma. The first Fall Frost is reported as October 27. The growing season is 199 days. The first and last frost dates are 30% probability. (Editors Note: Daddy always said it could snow in Oklahoma up to and including Easter. April 9 this year).
 According to Almanac.com, a frost date is the average date of the last light freeze in spring or the first light freeze in fall. The classification of freeze temperatures is based on their effect on plants:
Light freeze: 29° to 32°F (-1.7° to 0°C)—tender plants are killed.
Moderate freeze: 25° to 28°F (-3.9° to -2.2°C)—widely destructive to most vegetation.
Severe freeze: 24°F (-4.4°C) and colder—heavy damage to most garden plants.
 Note that frost dates are only an estimate based on historical climate data and are not set in stone. The probability of a frost occurring after the spring frost date or before the fall frost date is 30%, which means that there is still a chance of frost occurring before or after the given dates!
 Frost is predicted when air temperatures reach 32°F (0°C), but because it is colder closer to the ground, a frost may occur even when air temperatures are just above freezing. Always keep an eye on your local weather forecast and plan to protect tender plants accordingly. Weather, topography, and microclimates may also cause considerable variations in the occurrence of frost in your garden. Learn how to protect plants from frost.
 Frost dates are calculated based on data from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information.
 Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes too. Happy planting!