As we have some chilly wind and daytime temps right now we're humbly reminded it is still winter. Oh, yeah.
Woops - I sheepishly trotted my 12" tall tomato plants that I had placed in a new homemade coldframe yesterday back into the warm house.
Some of my clients are asking me when is it safe to plant annuals or place their tomato plants outside? Can they redo their containers without fear of a freeze blasting them to death?
Well, we all need to wait about 5 weeks or so.
Technically, we are in what the USDA has declared zone 8. That zone encompasses areas surrounding Fredericksburg and the Texas hill country. Interestingly enough, it also happens to be the same garden zone as Seattle, Tuscon, and England! How is that possible? That would be because the USDA Plant Hardiness zones are determined by average minimum temperatures and for zone 8 that is between 10 and 20 degrees. Plants that are labeled as zone 8 can withstand those minimum temperatures.
San Antonio and Austin are hovering near zone 9 and can therefore grow a wider palette of tropical type plants than we can in the hill country. Keep that in mind when you shop at nurseries in those cities.
Obviously, we cannot grow the exact plant palette as gardeners in Seattle or England. The USDA zoning doesn't take into account average high temperatures, although there is another zoning system that does called the Heat Zone System, which will hopefully clarify plant tolerances for diverse gardening areas.
So! What is the magic date then for the last freeze for zone 8 in the Texas hill country? It is listed as March 30th, but according to local peach grower, Danny Hallford, April 17 is a much safer bet.