video tutorials, tried-and-true tips + our latest learnings to surround you with abundance all season long
Growing up in the Finger Lakes of New York, high elevation Zone 5, I have the mantra of "Memorial Day is Final Frost" deeply embedded in my brain. I am constantly questioning my assumptions about myself and the world around me; this year I was inspired to dig a little deeper into this maxim.
Are historic frost dates still relevant?
potatoes are ideally planted three weeks before final frost
Pouring over decades of temperature records in our county from the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Association (which is totally free and fascinating, I highly recommend it!) from 1930 to present, here are my observations:
a) Our final frost dates have (surprisingly) remained fairly consistent, often occurring just before Memorial Day.
b) Even on years when final frost is weeks earlier than Memorial Day (like May 1st, 1970, which happens 2-3 times each decade), the night temps generally aren't out of the 40s consistently until around Memorial Day.
Daffodils bloom, wood frogs sing! As robins pull worms from the warming soil, here are ten easy seeds to sow in May.
The classic harbinger of spring, peas are sown as soon as your soil can be worked. (What does that mean? Check out this video.) Some years we sow peas in March. Other years, it's May. All seasons have their advantages and disadvantages. Everything's grand or everything's not grand: you choose. I digress.
Peas tolerate cool seasons better than most plants in your garden. To some extent, the earlier you plant your peas the earlier you'll harvest peas. Keep in mind: peas developing in cooler temperatures will be sweeter and more tender than those developing in the heat of summer. So tuck them in quick! And whatever you do, please resist starting them indoors; peas absolutely despise having their sensitive root systems uprooted. Most of us can relate.
To extend your pea harvest this season, sow both dwarf and full-size...
Tomatoes love basil.
Kale loves dill.
Is it really that simple?
Yes and no.
Companion planting is the art of planting your garden so everything will thrive in each neighbor's company.
Here is the bottom line: Diversity is essential for a healthy, gorgeous garden.
And the more the merrier: More species, more varieties, more flowers, more insects, more abundance, more joy.
Our insectary mix, full of diversity delicious for countless species.
What makes a good companion plant? Here are the three characteristics I consider when pairing companion plants, followed by my four go-to companion plants for any garden.
Tall plants can act as a living trellis for climbing crops. For example, pole beans grow marvelously up sunflowers and corn.
Sunflower and corn are living trellises for pole beans.
Tall crops often create shade in your garden, as well. Limit the shade they make by planting tall crops north/south...
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...
With snow still on the ground and freezing nights long from over, it's finally time to sow the first seeds of spring.
But don't worry, it's not time to start everything. In fact, most seeds sown this early would be sown months too soon.
The only seeds to sow in February are allium seeds. The Allium family (thanks for the great name, Linneus) include onions, leeks, shallots, chives and garlic. Garlic is planted in fall and chives can wait 'til April, but the first three are best sown mid-February to mid-March. It's not a race and no need to make any extra work for yourself, just know if you're looking forward to homegrown shallots as much as I am, it's time to start planning.
Here is a materials list to get you started from page 15 of Rise & Shine: Starting Seeds with Ease, Fruition's eBook making it easy for you to sow seeds like a pro:
For years we’ve been asked to demystify seed starting and here it is: Rise & Shine shares everything you need to start seeds successfully at home in 40 beautiful pages with easy-to-follow instructions and insightful tips for the novice and experienced grower alike.