Old wives’ tales are deeply woven into the fabric of Southern culture. From haint blue porch ceilings to burying the bourbon, Southerners are quick to take heed to the meanings behind these outlandish superstitions and will purchase gallons of Benjamin Moore® Mystical Blue paint for good measure to keep the spirits away. While old wives’ tales seem absurd, Master Gardener John Wesson is mindful of one famous fable when it comes to his garden: “February thunder, April frost.”
According to the legend, if it thunders in February, there will be a frost on that same day in April, running the risk of freezing any newly planted produce in your garden. While there is little science to validate this claim, there is still some truth behind it, especially since the South can experience all four seasons in the same week. At the first hint of spring, eager Southerners are ready to spruce their forlorn gardens by planting vegetable seeds and flowers, but Wesson refuses to put his summer plants in the ground until mid-April. A warm February might fool the Bradford Pear trees to believe that spring has sprung, but it won’t trick Wesson. Years of experience has caused him to be leery of planting too early in the season. A late frost will easily stun new growth, so Wesson believes the best time to get your summer plants into the ground is around Good Friday. Since Easter falls earlier this year (April Fools), Wesson suggests waiting closer to Tax Day in mid-April.
Before you grab your gardening gloves and packets of heirloom tomato seeds, maybe think twice about this old wives’ tale. After all, February was a rainy month all across the Southeast so for many we will experience that dreaded April frost.