Still time to order seeds if you haven’t already. I need to order my seeds Monday, now that I’m home from the show so I get them in time to plant in March. Probably most of you have already order your seeds. I only need to order a few as I still have many seeds that I will regrow this year. It feels late but it is what it is. Last year I started the seeds the first week of March. Because it was such a cold spring, I couldn’t get them out till late May and even June last year They got too tall in the house, but what was I to do? Stick them out in 27°F weather? I’m still going to plant seeds from March 1 -15, inside, under the lights and hope with this La Nina we have that all of us will be able to sneak out some of our warm season crops early—think April 15th! It’s always a crap shoot when trying to decide when to plant seeds but I’m going early! Bring out the gro lights! (I hear, “oh no” in the background!) I do have ‘plant envy’ for those of you have greenhouses or hoophouses!
Our first frost free day this year is Sunday May 15, 2011.
For those of us who start seeds indoors, here is a seed starting calculator from Johnny’s Select Seeds that I found online. It is on the upper right corner of the site. Once you open it, plug in the first frost free date for your area and it generate all kinds of useful information in a chart form from when to plant seeds for all kinds of common vegetables to when to set out the transplants into the garden. Then you can print it out and refer back to it as needed. So it is good for those of us who grow from seed and ALSO good for those of us who prefer to put out transplants we buy from the nurseries.
Here is Santa Fe’s (ZONE 5) Seed Starting Chart that I generated using May 15 as a date. To see the whole chart click this pdf- Johnny’s Selected Seeds – Superior Seeds & Gardening Tools . PDFs don’t show up on this blog only connections to them so you’ll have to click to see it.
HELPFUL HINT: If you have something that is longer than a page that you want to save from the internet on your computer. Go to FILE and then PRINT as if you were going to print it . Somewhere on your menu screen it says PDF. Go to that and then go to SAVE AS PDF. Click yes and now you have your document saved in it’s entirety on your computer desktop. You can also print it as well. This has been a very useful tip for me ins aving long documents.
I actually make several different seed starting charts-one based on the actual frost free date and one where I ‘push’ the date a little earlier to see if I can plant my tomato transplants early. For most other veggies I go by the frost free date but the tomatoes I try to sneak in the ground as early as possible because I grow some varieties that ripen very late in the season and I want them to ripen before the first frost. Two years ago I got my tomatoes in the ground on April 15th because we had such a mild Spring but last year some plants didn’t even make it in till June-so it depends on the year and what the weather is like in Spring… So play with this chart to see when to plant your seeds or transplant you plants and then watch the weather!
If you just can’t bear to throw out those old seeds, here’s a test to tell how viable your older seeds are. Take 10 seeds and soak for about 1 hour, then put them between damp paper towels and in a plastic ziplock baggie. Put in a warm spot (on top of your refrigerator or on a grow heating mat). Keep checking them daily and when you get them to germinate, count up how many actually did germinate. If you got 3, then you have a 30% germination rate, 5 would be a 50% germination rate and so forth. If you only get 1-2, throw them out, their not worth the trouble. So if you have a 100 seeds, then you can be pretty assured that around 30 would germinate (30% rate).