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As robins flock, days warm and daffodils rise, our psyches itch sow seeds. That first delicious day in the 60s sends the shoes off my feet as I scramble to plant peas, spinach cilantro and those first, sweet radishes of the season. Truly, there are few finer feelings.
So Friends, I'm excited to share what I'm sowing directly in the ground ~6 weeks before final frost here in the Finger Lakes, Zone 5!
But first, two things about soil temperature and texture, everyone's favorite subject:
If your soil is soupy, even a little, your seeds will likely rot. We typically direct sow and transplant into our raised beds and containers, which warm up and drain much more quickly than the garden soil, between two or three weeks before we plant into our gardens. Even light tillage of wet soils will compact and destroy your soil texture, sometimes taking years to recover.
How do you know if your soil is...
It's almost September and true confessions: I'm exhausted.
I know I'm not alone.
We've been cultivating beauty and abundance for months, with so much on our minds and hearts, amid the bustle of our everyday lives and cultural chaos. Behind each of those gorgeous photos on social media we know there is a weary gardener, often wishing someone would make her dinner from all the glorious food she's surrounded by.
Last year, Dandy saved us: Last September, while we were busy harvesting seed and picking up irrigation, she sowed seeds. Greens and herbs that fed our bodies and souls until snowfall and many that even survived the winter, re-growing the most tender and sweet leaves of the season as spring arrived. Taking that extra moment to sow a few seeds this September may be one of the best decisions you make this season. Certainly, one of the most delicious :)
Interplanting maximizes every inch of your garden space; especially when you plan to put hoops with row cover over your greens...
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.
Traditional wisdom sends us to our garden Memorial Day weekend. And for good reason: the soil is finally warm, it is marvelous to not wear socks and all the quintessential summer crops (tomatoes, basil, beans) can be planted with confidence knowing there will (likely) not be another frost 'til fall.
Certainly, Memorial Day is a great time to start your garden but friends, there’s no need to wait. Especially if you love salad as much as Davi and I do :)
With the right seeds, the right tools and the right timing, you can be eating greens six weeks or more before Memorial Day, even in our short seasons here in the Finger Lakes.
Yes, even when it's still snowing on April 19th, as it is today :)
Here are my five ways to make sure you're eating salad before Memorial Day.
When does nature sow her seeds?
In the fall!
Much more on this as autumn approaches :)
In the meantime,...
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...
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.