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In most areas of the country, we are still embracing the wild weather of winter transitioning into spring. As I type this, it is snowing outside. Thankfully, the time to plant seedlings is coming closer, fast!
I look forward to this time of year. There is something so refreshing and rejuvenating about working in the dirt, even if it is inside. It reminds me that winter doesn’t last forever, Thank God! Spring is a time of new life and birth from our gardens. It is time to prepare!
One of the top questions I asked is how I plan my garden. How do I know what to grow? And, most importantly, how do I know when to plant everything? I’m going to take you step by step through my process. Just promise not to laugh at my drawing skills, okay?
My first step is to think about what our family consumes on a regular basis. What veggies do I purchase every week at the store? Do I purchase certain frozen veggies and canned goods? Then, I think about what I need to grow to replace those items.
For our family, we grow quite a huge variety. While I have listed just tomatoes, I grow, on average, five to seven different types of tomatoes. I grow over seven varieties of peppers.
Once I have my list ready, I draw out my garden, such as the one pictured above. It is a rough sketch and it doesn’t indicate the actual amount of plants that I will grow of each. However, it gives me a way to organize it all in my mind.
Next, I order my seeds. Who doesn’t love to buy seeds? I purchase all of my seeds from Baker’s Creek Heirloom Seeds. They are fantastic and worth every dollar! When my seeds arrive, it is like Christmas!
We have the seeds and the general idea of where to plant everything. Next comes the big when to start planting.
The USDA split up the USA into Hardiness Zones. You can discover yours, which indicates your first and last frost date each year. Remember, it is an average. there is no 100% foolproof way to know when the last frost will take place.
Here are my steps to determine my gardening plan.
- Many plants need to be started indoors 8 to 9 weeks before the last frost date. I count backwards from that date and mark that as the general time to start my indoor seedlings.
- Four weeks before the last frost, there are certain plants ready to go outside, such as cabbage and broccoli. Mark this date on your calendar. This is also a good time to start your potatoes!
- Next, certain plans can be directly sown into the garden beds two weeks prior to your last frost date, such as peas, carrots, radishes and lettuce. At this time, I also start my zucchini seedlings. You don’t want them to become root bound in the containers, so don’t start too soon.
- Finally, you have reached the last frost date! At this time, it is safe to set out the rest of your seedlings, like the tomatoes and peppers. Also, you can directly sow plants like corn, cucumbers and beans.
Gardening is, generally, forgiving. If you don’t have the perfect dates, everything will work out fine in the end. To avoid stress, take an hour and plug in the dates on your calendar. It is really just that easy!
For all of my new gardeners, I hope this was helpful! Coming up in the next week or so, we will talk about how to start seedlings on a budget! Stay tuned!