How soon does the ground freeze?

nygardener(z6 New York)December 8, 2009

We've had an unusually warm fall, and I was hoping to dig some garden beds this weekend with a new powered plow. But the minute I placed the order last week, temps plunged into the twenties and, this week, are forecast to be in the teens. (Yes, sorry, I'm the one who caused the cold snap.)

How may days of freezing temps does it take to freeze the soil solid? I'm wondering how much chance I have of actually getting some beds dug before, say, April. Or May, since the ground will probably still be wet in April.

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ericwi

If you can see frost in the morning, then the top layer of soil must be frozen. But it might only be frozen to a depth of 1/4 inch or so. It takes several months of cold weather for the ground to freeze to a depth of more than one foot. The longer & colder the winter, the deeper is the frost line.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 8:00PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

Thanks, Eric. I'll probably be OK if no more than a few inches are frozen.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 8:08PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

You might be able to get an idea by looking at the regional soil temperatures in the December 4, 2009 UMass Landscape Message.

Scroll down to the Environmental Data table and you'll see the soil temperatures at 4 inches depth for different regions in Massachusetts. The zones range from 5 to 7, but none of the soils are reported to be frozen yet. (This link will update automatically in January).

For comparison, the January 9, 2009 UMass Landscape Message from the Archives shows all of the soil to be frozen at a depth of 4 inches. It's likely that the conditions will be similar next January (a month from now).

Claire

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 8:51PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

Claire, what a useful page. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 8:59PM
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annpat(5-Maine)

You do what you can do while you can do what you can do.

I'm drinking, but just the same, it makes sense, n'est pas?

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 11:57PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Soil will only freeze after some time of below freezing average temperatures. The presence of frost is not an indication of frozen soil, only that the soil might freeze some time later. Because the average temperatures around here have been in the mid thirtys my soil, even as saturated with moisture as it is, has not yet started to freeze and now with 3 inches of snow cover, and more coming, it may not at all.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 6:58AM
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annpat(5-Maine)

(Ut oh.

I sure hope here was the only place I posted last night. It made perfect sense at the time.)

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 10:24AM
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Lloyd

AP, your post made more sense than "will only freeze after some time of below freezing average temperatures" from the USDO.

:-)

Loid

P.S. USDO = U.S. Department of the Obvious

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 11:13AM
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drafted72(Chicago)

nygardener

Wow, that is really a nice power plow you got. I never seen any rototiller work like that before. It must of cost you a few pennies.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 2:47PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

I understood you perfectly, annpat. You said what you said and you meant what you said you meant.

drafted, yep, it did cost a couple bucks. People seem to think it's a good plow. I'll post here about it after I've had a chance to use it.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 4:36PM
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minitrucker

Cool tiller!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 5:11PM
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idaho_gardener

I don't know. You might want to swap out that engine for one of the B&S Intek 1600 engines. 342cc's, 15.5 lb/ft torque. You could get more work done. (More power, grunt, grunt)

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 5:59PM
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curt_grow

Now,(That) would turn EG's compost pile!

Curt :-)

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 8:16PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

"You do what you can do while you can do what you can do."

Isn't that like the old saying
"The best time to transplant a plant is when you have a shovel."

Claire

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 8:16PM
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