May 21st, 2013
Those couple of cold mid-May nights last week nipped the tips of some of my tender young peppers, tomatoes and basil.
That was only the second time that’s happened to me in nearly 30 years of gardening in the suburbs of Hampden Twp.
It’s rare around here to get frost damage beyond Mother’s Day. Most years, it’s safe sailing by the end of April.
What I usually do is hold off on planting the tender stuff (i.e. annual flowers and warm-weather veggies) until early May, then look at the 7-day forecasted lows.
When the overnight lows aren’t supposed to dip below 40, I plant – figuring that by the time we then get to mid-May, we’ll be at the all-time record late frost date for Harrisburg.
According to the area’s “official” weather records from Harrisburg International Airport, our all-time latest killing frost is May 11. The average last killing frost is April 20.
It’s not unusual for frosts to happen later than that to the north of here and in outlying areas, which is why Halifaxers and Newporters often wait until close to Memorial Day to plant their tomatoes and petunias.
What happened last week was a freak return to the freezing point after a string of normal above-freezing weather.