Readers write to me from time to time and ask me to recommend a seed starting chart. I think most are under the impression that the charts contain the exact dates you need to plant or start seed. They don’t.
Although you can use seed starting charts as a beginning point for making your plans, you won’t necessarily be successful if you rely totally on the dates they show. Too many variables. And every chart – like the situation in your garden – is a bit different than the next.
If you still think you want to “play around” with a seed starting chart here are two nice ones. Just don’t think they furnish 100% accurate and complete information, because they don’t.
What It Takes To Be Successful
Regular readers of TMG already know that to be successful in gardening you have to work with nature by doing things like keeping the ground covered and replenishing what the soil uses every season. But another important step to success is working with what nature dishes out in the form of weather.
Attitude Can Make a Big Difference
I think attitude can be critical to your success. I know from experience a good attitude can make a big difference in how much we enjoy life’s journey and the duties involved in tending our gardens. If we accept ahead of time that there is ALWAYS the possibility that things will not go exactly according to plan, it relieves a lot of stress when things vary from what we desire.
If you’ve lived any length of time you know there are endless possibilities for success in one form or the other in the worst of situations. Just because one thing (a vegetable for example) is not successful in “off” weather, doesn’t mean another vegetable won’t do its best ever in that same weather.
It’s always helpful to know the “whys” of what caused a failure so we can benefit from that knowledge at a later date. But even if we don’t have enough information to determine the cause, it’s important to look to the future and not get caught up in one or several less-than-successful attempts at growing something.
Dates Can Vary with the Weather
Your seed starting dates and dates for planting may vary from year to year because the weather varies. If it’s a warmer spring you get started earlier; if it’s a cold spring you start later. (If you have an indoor set up for seed-growing this may not apply in some cases.)
No need to be alarmed by this. Nothing we can do about the weather. If it’s a cold spring and you have to wait until later than you want to be getting things started and transplanted into the garden, be encouraged by this fact: when conditions are right, plants grow very quickly and 99% of the time can easily make up for the time you think you lost.
Adapting to Change
We can learn to adapt to various changes in the weather. It may be inconvenient, but we can do it. The way I learned to start seed without a greenhouse, without indoor lights, and everything else “conventional” wisdom dictated, was because I didn’t have all those things, couldn’t get them, and had to find a way if I was to grow my own.
I tried a lot of things before I was successful. And I’m still fine-tuning my “methods.”
Finding your First/Last Average Frost Dates
Things I find Helpful in Determining When I Want to Plant
I enjoy looking at the Farmer’s Almanac Weather forecast. http://www.farmersalmanac.com/long-range-weather-forecast/northeast-us/ (To get the forecast for your area, select your zone in the box indicated.)
It’s amazing how many times they’re right on target. Last year they seemed to hit it right to the day; this year they’ve gotten the weather “event” correct, but have been off a day or so. Still, I’ve found you can get some idea of what might happen.
My interpretation of their forecast for my area for this spring is that we’ll have a roller coaster of cold and hot weather. Around the 24 or 27th of April, it could be that my tomato seedlings (which by that time will be transplanting size), will need more protection for a day or two than my cold frame can provide. I am forewarned and as things develop I will be prepared to bring them inside for a day or two, rather than have them set back by unseasonably cold temperatures.
This will influence the dates I transplant to the garden as well. I’ll wait to see the May forecast when it’s put up before making a final decision about the date. My thought right now is to wait until mid- May or the end of May before I transplant tomatoes, peppers , and eggplant to the garden.
How That Influences My Start Date
If I count back 8 to 10 weeks from mid-May, that gives me a possible start date for my tomatoes, peppers, eggplants as early as March 1st if you go by a lot of the charts. I don’t. I never start those plants until at least March 15th. (Remember, after they germinate I have to put all seedlings outside to get enough light.)
Since it’s suppose to be cold off and on through March and April, I’ll have to “tend” stuff more than usual. That involves bringing them in and right now, I wonder where in the world I’ll find room for them!
I plan to start a few tomatoes, peppers and eggplants in mid-March. I’ll start the rest as late as the first week in April. Cuke and squash I’ll start the end of April or the first of May.
Like everything, there are many approaches to seed starting. If you’re new to it, jump in and start swimming anyway! If you have some set backs or if things go wrong – start again.
Take everything into consideration. The weather, the forecast, what your set up for seed starting is, how much time you’ll have to plant, how much you can tend the plants, etc.
Just remember that with everything you do, you’ll learn. If you know in advance that everything may not turn out 100% the way you wanted it to, you’ll still have many more successes than failures.
Good luck with everything! It’s going to be an exciting growing season.
Organic gardening is easy, effective, efficient – and it’s a lot healthier.
All content including photos is copyright by TendingMyGarden.com. All Rights Reserved.