A Time to Plant
The first year that I planted a garden here in Shelby, Corinne Merhar warned me not to put out the tomato plants before Memorial Day. I had to learn the hard way. You're not "safe" from frost in Shelby until the end of May. A few years later I had the biggest most beautiful tomato plants I had ever grown....until a freak August snowstorm blew through.
Gardening can be a challenge in northcentral Montana.
The MSU Extension service has a ton of information available to help gardeners plan and raise a bountiful crop, including a chart that shows the average dates of the last spring frost and first fall frost, which determine the number of days in a "growing season". The season can vary widely, from an average of 139 days in Great Falls to just 93 days in Browning. I was surprised to see that Dunkirk- just 10 miles east of Shelby- has a 120 day growing season, compared to Shelby's 110 days. And Gold Butte's season is eight days longer than Shelby's.
Here are the dates various locations in the Golden Triangle. you can plant and harvest outside these dates, of course, but you'll need to monitor the weather forecasts and take extra care to protect your garden from cold.
|Location||Last Frost||First Frost||Growing Days|