Does Climate Change Mean I Can Start My Seedlings Early?

Photo by Drew McLellan via Creative Commons

Those early hints of spring can call to a gardener like a siren song. Yet the urge to get one’s seeds into dirt can be dangerous: most seedlings won’t survive a single frost. To help with that, gardeners use 30-year averages that predict when the last frost will probably occur. The thing is, in New England, climate change has temperatures rising relatively quickly.

That’s left me – a reporter and occasionally impatient gardener – with a question. Does climate change mean I can start my indoor seedlings any earlier than the traditional 30-year frost averages recommend?

It’s getting pretty warm out after all, and I want to get my sprouted plants outside as soon as the soil’s warm enough. So, I took my question into a greenhouse at the University of New Hampshire. Here, Becky Sideman was at a lab bench. I breathed in that damp, quintessential greenhouse smell, and she began.

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