Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Spring Equinox in Colorado 2019 by Carol King

Photo by Carol King
The first day of spring brings joy to every gardener’s heart marking the beginning of the gardening season in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the unofficial time to start our gardens and regardless of the weather, we’re ready! Spring arrives here along the Front Range of Colorado on Wednesday, March 20, 2018 at 3:58pm MDT. This is also called the vernal equinox.

There are two equinoxes every year –  March and September – when the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of the night and day are nearly equal. (In reality equinoxes don't have exactly 12 hours of daylight, but close enough.) The March equinox marks the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from south to north. This happens on March 19, 20 or 21 every year.
Beside the calendar and the astronomical events, there are other signals to watch for that show the beginning of nature’s awakening in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Worms begin to emerge from the earth. In fact, the March Full Moon is called “The Full Worm Moon” for this reason.
  • Birds begin to migrate northward along the path of the sun.
  • The increasing sunlight triggers birds to sing so their spring songs become prominent.
  • Trees, shrubs, and flowers begin to come alive with crocus blooming, leaves swelling to bud, and daffodils and tulips beginning to emerge.
  • Insects begin to emerge from hibernation: bees, wasps, and lady bugs. They are looking for a “meal” and dandelions and crocus are a great source of nectar for them early in the year.
As a gardener, the vernal equinox can signal time to start planting. Depending on the cold tolerance of the plant, seeds can be sown outside starting in mid-to-late March. Think plants such as: broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, onions, lettuce, peas, radish, and spinach. Check the weather forecast and read the seed package before proceeding! Warm weather seeds can be started INSIDE in mid-March. Think: beans, celery, corn, cucumbers, New Zealand spinach, and summer squash.

For complete information about starting vegetables please refer to this Fact Sheet: Vegetable Planting Guide

Happy Spring and Happy Gardening!