So you’ve got your survival cache of seeds. But there are 365 days in the year, are you sure you know which days are good for the seeds you have?
There are some basic things you need to know about the seeds you want to plant. How cold tolerant are they? Those of you lucky enough to live somewhere without cold will have to ask how heat tolerant or drought tolerant the seeds are. I know I can plant peas and spinach and some lettuce with the last spring snow and have good germination. I know I couldn’t possibly do that with tomato seeds or squash seeds. Seeds should come with either temperature ranges or zone ranges. (Zones are referring to the USDA plant hardiness zone maps.)
Zones are related to your last and first frost dates. In the spring, you should keep your Last Frost Date in mind as you are calculating seeding times. Many seed reference books (I’m thinking here of gems like Suzanne Ashworth’s Seed to Seed or the A to Z guide to Organic Gardening) will use seed planting calculations that reference the LFD plus or minus days depending on the frost tolerance of the seed in question.
Do you have a way to start some seeds early? If I waited to direct sow my tomatoes, I would rarely get tomatoes up here. I have to start them indoors to give them a head start. Then I plant them as transplants when the soil is warm enough for them. Peppers are the same deal. Lettuce can be treated this way if you are truly desperate for the greens. They could be ready for harvest a mere couple weeks after transplanting out, if you had enough greenhouse space.
Know how to fudge things if you have to. If circumstances beyond your control have forced you to plant seed on a poor day for them, know what you can do to tip the scales in favor of your food. If you know it will need help staying cool, put down mulch, keep it well watered and find a way to put up some shade cloth. If you know it will need every last heat unit you can direct its way, put down reflective mulch to bounce light back up at the plant. Windows, sheets of plastic, glass bowls and even milk jugs can be used to trap early season or late season warmth. Mass can trap heat in a different way, radiating back out after absorbing it. Look into using what you have, whether that’s bricks, rocks, or dark colored vessels of water.
I’ve got onions and leeks reaching their green tips towards the light in my small little indoor greenhouse. I’ll be getting tomatoes and peppers seeded in there before this week is over. What are you starting? Do you have the dates planned out yet for everything else? Any questions we can help with? Shout out in the comments!
– Calamity Jane