The old adage says, “Don’t plant your garden before Memorial Day” to be safe from frost. I disagree with that philosophy in general. We are at a point now where I found three reasons why we can go ahead and start planting.
Let’s face it. If we want a successful garden in Michigan, we can’t wait forever.
I think a better garden and weather philosophy is to get to mid-May and look at the weather pattern for the next two weeks. If we don’t see frost possible at that point, we plant. Someone pinned me down today and asked if we are going to have another frost across the southern half of Michigan. I said no. She said I’m now on record. Now I’m on record twice. But could there be a frost in the last few days of May? Sure, but it doesn’t look like it will happen. So at some point we just have to go for it.
Meteorology has really progressed in forecasting two weeks out. So I have two weather reasons why it’s go time in the garden.
Firstly, If we look at the overall weather pattern the next 10 days, the entire period minus one day should have warmer than normal days for the southern half of Lower Michigan. Note if you are reading this from northern Lower, you are probably safe too with the exception of the cold interior locations from Houghton Lake to Wolverine.
Here are the high temperature forecasts each day for the next 10 days.
Expect a lot of 70s and 80s, with maybe one cooler day on a northeast wind. But it shouldn’t be cool enough during the day to bring a nighttime frost.
For my “when to plant” gardening tips to you, I focus first on frost. The second garden condition I always focus on with you is soil temperature. Some seeds won’t sprout and some plants won’t grow in cold soil. Warm temperatures during the day and night, sunshine and dry soil will boost the soil temperatures. Below are soil temperature forecasts for this Saturday.
The seeds that need the warmest soil to germinate are squash and vine seeds. Usually those seeds need 65 degree soil or warmer. So you can plant those seeds at anytime now, and they will respond over the next few days as the soil warms a lot.
So we have the air temperatures that probably won’t bring frost anymore. We have the soil temperatures that will germinate any seed.
What’s my third reason to plant now? You may not find what you want if you wait until Memorial Day. Your favorite greenhouse could be sold out of what you are looking to plant. I talked with Matt Bouvy, co-owner of Abele Greenhouse and Garden Center, a large greenhouse in Saginaw. He said since the last frost last week, “Everyday has been like a Saturday.” It’s just as busy as last year when everyone had only a few things to do, one of those things being gardening. Bouvy thinks many people have re-assessed their lives during the pandemic and want to get back to ‘simpler things.’ Gardening is one of those simpler things. Bouvy warns to not be surprised if certain items are sold out by Memorial Day.
Bouvy also says you can avoid the madness of the crowd that shops for plants Memorial Day weekend.
Anywhere from Mount Pleasant southward through all of southern Lower Michigan- go ahead and plant your gardens. We can’t wait forever here in Michigan, and the data shows we should be fine.