Typically this time of year yields tornadoes for my neck of the prairie. Hail, straight line winds, micro bursts, frog stranglers, yellow skies and green green grass. But not this year.
I fell asleep to a wonderfully rambunctious thunder storm shaking the windows, and vibrating the floors. I woke to temperatures close to freezing, fat white rain drops that changed to sleet. And as the temperatures still inching it's way closer to freeze, large slush like snow, mixed with small rain fills the air.
My apple, pear and peach trees were in full bloom. Were.
Our last freeze date is April 15th. To be honest, I have seen snow fall here in every month, except August. Even in July, with temperatures scorching, my mother and I were sitting at a restaurant when some one gasped. We looked up, and huge snowflakes emerged in front of the windows only to melt on contact. Yet this is rare.
Husband and I have learned over the years never to plant warm weather plants until the second week of May. It shortens our growing season, well it shortens what the USDA claims is our growing season. But this is the only way we can be sure that we won't have to start over. I see tomato, pepper and squash starters fly off the shelves even before our official freeze date. And after every unexpected freeze, those people have to return and purchase their starters over yet again. If you start from seed, and plant too soon, you too end up in the starter plant line as time is no longer on your side.
Covers do help to an extent. It really helps your blossoms. However with high winds, hail and/heavy sleet, those blossoms get battered and dislodged. Many starter plants have yet to harden enough to deal with the severe weather change, and many will go into shock, and never recuperate after such a harsh storm. Especially if your ground temperatures dropped dramatically. Mulch, mulch mulch, at least 6". At least.
Between the extreme droughts of the last two years, and the late season snowfalls, wheat has been damaged. The ground itself is stressed to its limits. Aquifer levels are dropping. This year I foresee nothing really changing. The conditions in our area are devastating. One reason to leave the State I was born in.