Last weekend I planted lettuce, spinach, and pea seeds in the buckets on my porch. The soil was toasty warm and over-wintered chives stretched as tall as my hand. I wish I had measured them – I swear they grew an inch that day as they enjoyed temperatures in the 70s.
As I mentioned in a January blog entry, we tapped our maple trees two weeks early this season. We didn’t know if sap would even flow – there were few deep freezes this winter and temperatures went above freezing on most days. December and January temperatures are usually below freezing. When they rise above 32 during the day, we know it is time to tap. This year we didn’t receive any such guidance from the local climate.
In validation of these observations of warming climate and earlier seasons, the USDA released a new hardiness zone map at the start of 2012.Minimum temperatures rose across the country. We can now officially plant earlier in the spring and expect frosts to come later in the fall. Click on the map to see what zone you live in. Remember to account for different micro climates, such as warmer temperatures by a south facing wall or cooler temperatures on north facing slopes.
Though it is important not to make climate change claims based on individual weather events, all of our local observations indicate that the gardening season is getting longer. It’s still too early to plant certain vegetables in Massachusetts, and will likely stay cool at night. Spinach, chard, kale, lettuce and peas are all great cool weather plants that can tolerate cool nights. Get those seeds in and you could enjoy an early spring harvest this year!