The last average frost around the Great Falls area is around mid to the end of May, but Great Falls is familiar with snow in June. Amy Grisak is an expert gardener and President of River City Harvest Community Garden. She says with a laugh, "as anyone who has lived here for any amount of time knows, it could be June something". This means if you haven't started planting, you should be getting ready and also be ready for the unexpected.
If you can't wait a few extra days, make sure to plant hardy greens or ones that need some time before they pop out of the ground. Grisak says, "you can plant your lettuce, spinach, radishes, potatoes, peas, those all have to go in the ground and you can even start seeding some of your warmer season plants like cucumbers, melons, and beans".
Water becomes your best friend to raise successful plants from seed, especially with high winds that dry the soil out. Grisak says, "you need to keep that soil bed moist or the seeds will not germinate".
It's a good time to get those flower beds going as well. Grisak says, "safe flowers to plant are perennials because they are a little more acclimated and hardier". Raised beds are great because you have more control over your soil. Soil in Great Falls is often clay or sandy. Sandy soil can be the worst of the two because Grisak says, "the moisture in particular and there the nutrients are going to be washing through the soil more." If you plant any temperamental plants, just be sure to cover them if Meteorologist Ted King is forecasting a cold front.
This is also the perfect time to add organic material like compost to your soil, but be careful with manure. Grisak says, "you don't want to apply any fresh manure, you want to give it at least 120 days which is 4 months between applying any manure and harvesting". That wait period is crucial to be sure bacteria is no longer a threat. You also need to know the source of your manure because herbicide tends to be a problem around Montana.