Here in the Finger Lakes of New York, Zone 5a, we're filling our greenhouse with the seeds of crops best sown 6 to 8 weeks before last frost. Exploring last frost dates is a blog coming soon! In the meantime, we aim for Memorial Day as our frost-free date.
Here is the laundry list, with notes:
Though onions & shallots (like Cuisse du Poulet below) were ideally started 4 to 6 weeks ago, there is no time like the present and last call! Other alliums like Leeks and scallions are not day-length sensitive, so sow them anytime now through mid-July. We'll be planting them out early/mid-May.
Now is the perfect time to start peppers, eggplant and tomatoes (like Brandywise below). Other varieties in the solanid family to start indoors include ground cherries and tomatillos, but hold off on them til mid-April: they are a lot more vigorous and will easily become stressed started this early. We'll keep them in the greenhouse until we harden them off & plant them out after Memorial Day.
Perennials often take longer to germinate and are less vigorous as seedlings compared to annuals. Mid-April is advisable for some of them, especially lavender (which can take up to 3 weeks to germinate if you don't have a heat mat). Other key perennials to start now include oregano, thyme, rudbeckias (like Prairie Sun below) and natives like milkweed. If you haven't sown them yet, no worries, you've still got a week or so. But no time like the present. We'll keep them toasty in the greenhouse until the soil and night temps are deliciously warm, after Memorial Day.
Now is the ideal time to start many varieties in the Brassica family, especially broccoli and kohlrabi. If it's a cool spring (like it is this season), transplanting other brassicas that are sometimes direct sown at this time will be your best approach to enjoying them sooner. Arugula, kale, pac choi and rapini/broccoli raab were all sown in our greenhouse this week as a result. These we'll harden off in early May, since they thrive growing and resist bolting with a bit of a chill.
Hooray! The season of fresh greens is freshly upon us! It's time to sow your first (second if you're ambitious) succession of chard and cool-season lettuce (like Winter Density or Flashy Trout Back), not to mention the brassica greens above. Just like brassicas, these are often direct sown in early/mid-April, but this season the ground is still frozen. So! We're starting them in the greenhouse to get a jump on the season. Same as our brassicas, we'll harden them off in early May, since they thrive growing and resist bolting with a bit of a chill.
Sweet pea, poppy and calendula (like Zeolights below) each love to establish in the cool, wet soils of mid/late spring. Sow them now, in early April, and plan on hardening them off in the first week or two of May. The rest of your flowers, hold off toward the end of April to start them. I know it's a bit counterintuitive but younger, unstressed seedlings will offer you more beauty and abundance than older, stressed seedlings. Good things come to those who wait :)
There you have it, Friends!
I'm off to our cozy greenhouse to sow seeds, even as there is a bona fide blizzard coming down around us. Such is the faith of a gardener, especially in the Northeast.
Glad I'm not alone, thanks for joining me :)
Sow Seeds & Sing Songs,
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