GUFFEY GARDENING WEATHER
We have a weather station here on our property, which we placed here prior to our move to this location. Our weather is transmitted to Weather Underground as “Guffey Station”, and the station itself is called Pike Trails Ranches. (We had a little mixup when we replaced our old station with a new one, and WU now has us listed as “Guffey Station”. We can’t change it.)
I have been keeping rather detailed records of our weather since that time. I’m including this information for anyone who’d like to compare their own information with ours, to determine whether the same plants that grow here may grow in your own area. As weather pertains to successful gardening, we need to know: first & last frost dates, season length, how hot or cold it is during the summer, how cold it gets in the winter, how many hours of sunlight per day, what is the UV Index during the summer.
There are different frost date finders here and there on the web. Here are a few. My favorite, which presents the results clearly and I believe comes closest to my experience was “Morning Chores”.
Frost dates listed for our location aren’t all that close and possible inaccurate. Keep in mind that we are just under 9,000 feet in elevation. Some of the nearest published frost dates that come up when I enter my zip code are as follows, with their distance from us “As The Crow Flies” (ATCF), the elevation and season length (# days from last frost to first frost). The Golden Gaits Ranch (GGR) stats are based on the past 5 years I’ve recorded, an average of the last & first days at 32° or less.
Just looking at these, you might pick Antero Reservoir as a close enough choice since they are a similar elevation, but it is wide open there and typically windier and colder that we are.
SUMMER & WINTER TEMPERATURES
In addition to last & first frost dates and the # days of the season without frost, there are summer & winter temperatures to consider. The winter temperatures are important to know for perennials—will they survive the winter? Nurseries that sell perennials will normally indicate which USDA Zones the plants are suited for. Unfortunately, they do not normally say anything about how long of a summer season it requires or how warm or cool the summer temperatures should be for success. That is my frustration, and I haven’t found resources to help me with that.
Summer temperatures and UV Index are important to help determine whether plants may require extra protection, either from too much heat or not enough. Frost cloth or plastic draped over hoops may help add warmth, particularly at night. Shade cloth can be draped over the hoops to help keep things cooler or to keep them from burning from too much sunshine (UV).
My USDA Zone is 4B (-20° to -15°). It did once reach -23° since we’ve been here. Here is a chart of our average temperatures and precipitation, 2015-2019 from May through September, showing Highest & Lowest Highs & Highest & Lowest Lows and Daily Averages.
I do not have average charts showing the UV Index for the area, but I know it’s high. We protect our garden plants by adding shade cloth to the beds, which allows approximately 70% of the sunlight to reach the plants.
Our latitude is 38.82, and on June 21st we get 14.53 hours of sunlight.
I just like to keep in mind that many of the “Zone 3” areas are in the northern part of the US, and receive more hours of light per day in addition to warmer summer temperatures. Therefore, I no longer trust that a plant that is considered hardy to Zone 3 will be successful in my location.
For more about my frustration with these zones, see my blog post, “Growing Zone Frustration.”