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Tennessee Department of Agriculture says Hold Your Horseradishes, Wait until Frost Threat Passes to Plant Gardens

The Tennessee Department of AgricultureNashville, TN – Go ahead and plan your best garden ever. You should even go out to the local farmers market or greenhouse and bring home those gorgeous tomato plants, seedling herbs, peppers and all the rest. Just please don’t plant them, yet.

Mark Twain may have been talking about Tennessee when he said, “If you don’t like the weather here, wait a minute.”

The current weather trend is a perfect example, with balmy mid-70’s days followed by stormy cold fronts with freezing temperatures at night.


This roller coaster weather is typical, and a better plan for gardeners anxious to get their hands dirty would be to keep tender purchases on a protected porch or patio. There, plants can “harden” to a wider temperature range than they’ve known in a greenhouse.

Exposing plants to natural sunshine during the days and protected lower nighttime temperatures helps plant leaves and stems toughen up and get ready for the real test: summer.

Generally, Tennessee garden planting can wait until after Mother’s Day for best results. Until then, late freezes can at best mean carefully covering vulnerable plants at every threat, and at worst re-purchasing a garden’s worth of plants after an ill-fated first attempt freezes to death.

For now, find the locally grown plants you want and let them get ready for real outdoor conditions. Enjoy checking your early crops like lettuces, spinach, carrots, early peas, onions and other cool weather plants poking through still chilly soils.

These early crops are already being harvested in abundance at local farms that use hoop houses and row covers. Let the experts at farmers markets fill your shopping bags and CSA boxes with sure signs that summer is on the way.

Find local farmers markets, CSA farms, greenhouses and plant nurseries with the free Pick Tennessee mobile app and online at PickTNProducts.org


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