A view of Český Krumlov is seen from a high point of the Bohemian town in the Czech Republic. A Czech legend warns against early planting. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Few days have tempted gardeners to plant early in Iowa this spring.

With daytime temperatures hovering in the 50s and nights even colder, already into May, many gardeners are waiting for more conducive weather.

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Still, with 70-degree days (hopefully) on the horizon, a Czech legend offers a warning against early planting.

Known under various names, including the Three Frozen Kings, the three icemen – tři ledovi muži – or Three Ice Saints, Three Frozen Men or Three Iron Men, the Czech legend warns against planting tender crops too early in case of a late frost.

According to the legend, the three kings or saints – Pankrac on May 12, Servac on May 13 and Bonifac on May 14 – were frozen when temperatures dropped while they were fishing at sea. On May 15, St. Zofie came along with a kettle of hot water to thaw out the three frozen kings.

The legend serves as a warning to protect tender plants against a possible late frost.

While many vegetables, such as peas, kale, radishes, cabbage, beets and lettuce, can be planted sooner in the Midwest, wait until May 15 to plant tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash and other tender vegetables and flowers outside, or at least provide them with protection in case overnight temperatures drop below freezing.

Perennials, such as daylillies and hosta, can be planted before the last average frost date, and it’s often even preferable before the heat of summer hits.

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