How do I know when to plant vegetables according to frost dates?

I read about the first and last frost dates in my garden books and magazines. I understand that this is a gauge for when to plant vegetables, but how do I know these dates for my locale?
Submitted by BHGPhotoContest

Your cooperative extension service or a local nursery can tell you the frost dates for your area. They'll be able to give you two dates: The last frost date for your area is the date when you can expect it to freeze for the last time in spring; the first frost date is the approximate date of the first fall frost.  As with all things related to Mother Nature, these dates are approximate. She can pull a fast one on you and drop in a freeze a little earlier or a little later than you planned. Be prepared with lightweight blankets and row covers for the few weeks surrounding your frost dates if you have tender plants to protect.

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