There should be a catchy name for it, like Super Tuesday or Black Friday. Isn’t the day when it’s safe to plant out annual flowers and young vegetables just as important as a primary that may or may not mean anything, or a day when shopping is like fighting for the last seat on the last Titanic lifeboat?
But there isn’t a name. Perhaps the fact that this date changes from zone to zone—and in some zones does not even exist—has something to do with it. I don’t know about you, but the day when we can plant feeling relatively secure from frost is a pretty big deal around here. The nurseries have great fun teasing us, filling their indoor spaces with diascia, pelargoniums, ipomoea, coleus, heliotrope, and petunia. “Look but don’t touch,” they say, “Don’t even think of buying these before … drumroll … MAY 15!” Out of sheer frustration, we end up buying about 6 flats too many of the short-lived pansies that are the only annuals they’ll sell (see above).
Meanwhile, it’s even scarier for our little tiny seedlings. When to risk exposing those to a possible 35-or-under night?
It used to be later. Memorial Day was the wisdom. But now, May 15 seems fine—as far as recent experience goes—and none too soon in terms of the seedlings I have from my mail order purchases. These really seem to detest their cramped black plastic quarters. Worse yet, I have colacasia from Bent and Becky’s that have been sitting in a sunny room for maybe three weeks.
Dates are so ridiculous and arbitrary in this context; anything can happen at any time. Yet, I feel absurdly comforted by the oft-repeated mantra of May 15. I know I will be planting on that day.
It should have a name.