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Frost still possible during early spring

It feels good to be able to finally say that spring has sprung. The season officially arrived today at 12:57 pm ET.

And while the weight of those words eases our cold-hardened minds. Let’s not forget that the region, zone 6A, can still see frost until around mid-April.

The operative word is possibly. It could be an actual temperature drop, such as the ones being forecasted, or it could be a frosty wind that causes everything to dip below the freezing point of 32°. Besides, we've seen temperatures change drastically overnight many times this past winter so it shouldn't come as a surprise to any of us by now of what Mother Nature is capable of.

With high temperatures above 50° today and Friday along with a practically balmy 65° forecasted for Saturday, we might be inclined to think that the March lion is settling down to become that demure lamb.
But the National Weather Service is warning us that next week could see snow precipitation during the beginning of the week with temperatures high around 40° Monday through Wednesday. Whether or not this impending, potential coastal storm impacts the region with whatever is too far away to tell as of yet, authorities say.

Either way, gardeners looking to extend their season should take precautions. Row covers provide frost protection during the early spring (and fall) and can be used as a pest barrier during the summer.

Fashioned simply with fabric and hoops, they come in varying sizes/lengths, weight and material. The type of material will determine your level of frost protection and ambient light admitted, the heavier providing the most insulation against the cold but allowing less light. Heavier materials may have to be vented or drawn off plants during mid-day because of heat buildup.

Cold frames can be purchased or built. Basically a bottomless box with a clear top that can be opened, they can be shaped in sizes to fit even the smallest of backyard spaces. They offer the same types of protection as row covers. And like the covers, the frames must be vented on sunny days to prevent sunburn.

“How to Build a Cold Frame” Links

Frost Protection Supplies

Source: The Weather Channel, Spring Is Arriving; But What Will It Feel Like?, Chris Dolce, March 20, 2014;, Spring-like temperatures to start season, but more snow on the way?, Emily Babay, March 20, 2014.

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