We often forget how we can still get frosts late into Spring and even early Summer, even though the days themselves may be sunny and warm. Even in mild North Devon we always reckon it wise to assume that we will get frosts through until the end of April. Occasionally even in May we can experience the odd frosty night, and this can be damaging for tender plants, and will drastically slow down plant growth.
That is why we check the weather forecasts regularly so that we can decide when best to plant seeds, and to estimate how well the grass pasture is likely to grow.
Some crops, like seed potatoes, can be destroyed by frost. Others need a particular soil temperature to germinate and, if it is too cold, will rot in the soil. Grass itself will only start to grow strongly if night temperatures are on or above 6 degrees Celsius.
In the case of some of our fruit trees that flower early, like our Asian Pear, Peach, Plum or Damson, a late frost can damage the buds or flowers and prevent the growth of fruit.
While the quality of our weather forecasting has improved hugely in the last twenty years, it is still a judgement call, or a bit of a gamble, as to when best to plant seeds on the farm or in the garden.
That is all part of the skill of the farmer or grower. Meanwhile we are getting the Spring ploughing done, watching weather forecasts carefully, and getting in our supplies of seed, ready to go ahead when the time is right…