Chart for Seed Starting and Transplanting

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!

Growing Heirloom Tomatoes From Seeds

The Heirloom Tomato by Amy Goldman

I just read an article online by Mother Earth News,  56 Heirloom Tomatoes Rated Excellent for Flavor‘ that lists tomatoes from Amy Goldman‘s book, ‘The Heirloom Tomato: from Garden to Table’ which I got last year.  The article lists and describes 56 excellent heirloom tomatoes from her book. After reading this excellent article, if you want to know more, her book- The Heirloom Tomato: from Garden to Tableis a must have for those of us who want to grow heirloom tomatoes from seeds and get some idea of what we are growing. It’s a beautiful book with wonderful photos of many heirloom tomatoes that Amy has rated for flavor, texture, color, type, history, where you can get the seeds, etc. I use it to help me decide which heirloom tomatoes to try each year now.

Interior of 'Gold Medal' Tomato

Last year, my favorite tomato from her book that I tried was Gold Medal, a bi-colored (red and yellow interior) tomato that took most of the season to ripen but was worth the wait. Check out the picture on the right to see the beautiful interior of these tomatoes. The plants were loaded and these beefstake type of tomatoes (about 1 lb) are firm, beautiful, and sweet with low acid.  I started these inside under a light box around the first week of March (10 weeks before our first frost free day-May 15) but I try to sneak my tomatoes out early (third week of April inside Wall of Waters) which is why I grow them 10 weeks instead of the customary 8 weeks for tomatoes. I will explain more on growing tomatoes from seeds in future posts as we get closer to planting time. You can buy the seeds at Baker Heirloom Seeds (

What Gardeners Do In January

So what do Gardeners do in January? 20 things to do this month…

1. Unplug your outdoor holiday lights and your ready for next year. (Notice I didn’t say put them away)

2. Drink Martinis (nice warm drink) by the fireplace.

3. Put away holiday stuff. Keep out your gardening gifts all over the house.

4. Read gardening books and catalogs by the fireplace. Leave them out too. Your significant other will love you for this..

5. Watch weather (say isn’t that a cloud-oooh I think it looks like a pumpkin up there-do you see it?)

6. Make snow vegetables instead of a snowman. See if your neighbors can tell what they are..

7. Ogle seed catalogs (by the fireplace). Put stickies all over them.

8. Take dog for a drag (they don’t like to walk in snow).

9. Order more seeds (by the fireplace). As if we don’t have enough.

10. Guess how high your utility bill will be this month. Sit by the fireplace more and turn the thermostat down.

11. Get lots of firewood inside before that next storm. Buy green firewood-lasts longer..

12. Find your growing light boxes (or make them if you haven’t). Use full spectrum fluorescent lights instead of grow lights. Same difference and much cheaper. Drag them inside this month to set up and freak out your significant other.

13. Shovel snow outside (getting in shape for spading next Spring-notice I said getting).

14. Get heating mats for your grow boxes-a must have if you start seeds indoors. Nice to sit on too.

15. Layout next year’s garden on your computer (by the fireplace). I use Really fun. Free for the first 30 days and then you can pay if you like it (not much-small price to pay for so much fun)

16. Insulate your grow boxes so they don’t loose so much heat at night inside. I buy a roll of metallic bubble wrap and wrap it around all 4 sides (one side removable in front so I can get to the plants) and a section for the top that I completely remove in the day and lay back on at night. Wrap your dog or cat in the leftover metallic wrap-you’ll enjoy it-they won’t.

17. Schedule when each veggie can go out (by the fireplace). I use a garden planner from a wonderful blog-Skippy’s Vegetable garden. How’s that for obsessive? Hey you gotta do something inside all those months!

18. Thank your significant other for putting up with your obsession. They might be ok with next growing season (hey at least try)

19. Toss that plant you didn’t plant outside and didn’t have the heart to get rid of last fall that is now full of aphids. (where do they come from anyways?)

20. Make your significant other read your blog. (As if they don’t put up with enough gardening stuff)

BONUS: Look up more gardening/pumpkin info on line. I call it gardening/pumpkin porn. (hey you gotta research this stuff, right?)

Happy New Year to all my obsessive gardening friends!!!