How are you coming on planting your garden? If you’re like me, you’ve got about a hundred or more things on your plate; or at least it feels like you do. With that much to do it’s hard to do things long before they need to get done. Some call it procrastination, I call it being busy. Sometimes leading that busy of a lifestyle can lead to sudden worries that you might have missed a deadline and are now behind. Well if this is what you’re going through about starting your vegetable garden, I’m here to let you know that as of today, March 31st, you are not too late to have an amazing garden. In fact, if you’re direct sowing your seeds, then you’re right on time and even ahead for certain seeds.
Hello, readers! Handyman here, to talk about when to start planting your vegetable garden. In this blog, first, I’ll go over the two different ways to start your seeds. Secondly, I’ll go over zip code specific data that I use, and a good place for you to go to get that data. Next, I will elaborate on which seeds have a greater cold tolerance and which need warmer weather, and what that means for your planting timeline. Finally, some pre-season things to do while you’re waiting to plant.
Sowing seeds inside or out
There are two ways to start your seeds. You can start them indoors or directly sow them into the ground. Starting them indoors allows you to start growing earlier, and enables you to plant outside, at the appropriate time, a thriving plant. Starting seeds indoors can take up a lot of room and, in my experience, transplanting isn’t always successful. Because of these two things, and as mentioned earlier, how busy I always am, I choose to direct sow all of my seeds. If you have chosen to start your seeds indoors, you typically want to start them 2-6 weeks before the last Spring frost. Which means that for many of you, it’s getting late to start this way, so don’t delay. Seeds that are cold tolerant (I’ll get more into that later) can be transplanted up to a week before the last frost of Spring, and seeds that are warm season can be transplanted approximately two weeks after the projected last frost of Spring.
For direct sowing of seeds, which is my preferred method, the timing for planting outside is the same. Well, without the 2-6 weeks of little plant starter pots all over your kitchen counters… A caveat to all of that information is that if using a hoop-house, or another form of frost protection, you can plant one month earlier than previously stated.
Predicting the weather
So, everything is dependent on the last Spring frost, but what is a reliable source for that information? I use davesgarden.com. Click on that link and punch in your zip code. All the information you need will be right in front of you. To the left is a picture for my zip code. This suggests my projected last frost is April 22nd, and I shouldn’t get a frost again until October 18th. My frost free growing season is about 179 days long. Where you live can make a big difference, however. Below are pictures for Seattle and Ocean Shores… I highly recommend using this website before you begin planting.
Do your seeds have cold-weather gear?
Another important piece of knowledge is if your seeds are cold tolerant or not. Obviously, this makes a big difference to when you can safely plant them. Better Homes and Gardens‘ website says that the following seeds are cold hardy: Broccoli, cabbage, carrots, chives, lettuce, peas, swiss chard, radish, and spinach. Seedsnow.com had a few more to add: Beets, cauliflower, celery, kale, and a few that I have no interest in planting! An added plus to cold-tolerant vegetables is not only that you can start them sooner, but that you can also grow them longer into fall; even possibly a second crop, depending on the vegetable growth time. Warm-season vegetables are beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, peppers, squash, tomatoes, and a few others mentioned on Sunset.com. Warm season vegetables typically need more sun and warmer temperatures, as the name suggests.
What else needs to be done
For me and my specific zip code, I’ll be starting to direct sow my cold hardy seeds on April 15th this year. Still two more weeks, a much needed two more weeks for me. What can you do in the meantime? Here is my list of things that I will be doing over the next two weeks in the garden: First, soil tests, and corrections if necessary. Then a watering system check, to make sure all of my sprinklers, nozzles, and hoses are all still functioning properly. Next, finish planning out what/where I’m going to plant. Last, but not least, make sure I have enough of the seeds that I’m planning for. There is also enough time left that you can build an incredible raised garden box like I have. Read more about THAT right here at Zion Family Homestead next week. Until then…
Handyman is on the job.