One of the most exciting times of year for a gardener is Seed Season! Now’s the time to plan your garden, order seeds, and prepare for starting your seedlings and direct sewing cold weather spring crops.
But before you get too excited and order 50 packets of kale seeds, there are a few things to think about:
- What is your plant hardiness zone?
- The USDA divides the country into growing zones based on climate to determine what plants are likely to thrive where. When shopping for seeds or plants online, be sure to get plants that will survive in our hardiness zone: Zone 7B. See the interactive map here.
- Take note of what DIDN’T do well last year.
- Did your cucumber’s leaves turn powdery white and never give you a cuke? Did your tomato get all spotty on the leaves and eek out only a couple of measly tomatoes? Did your peppers get all tall and skinny but never set fruit? Maybe take a year off from those plants that didn’t do well and try something new.
- Rotate your crops.
- Planting the same thing in the same place year after year not only depletes the soil of essential nutrients, it can also encourage disease to stick around. A great example are the root-knot nematodes in tomatoes and leaf rust on strawberries in the Transit Garden (see examples here). Consider giving these plants the year off and trying something new! Legumes like peas are great for fixing nitrogen in the soil, and brassicas like mustard greens repell root-knot nematodes.
- What do you really have space for?
- Plants have different growing habits. Squashes need space to roam, bell peppers can get quite tall, and roots grow underground but their leaves still need sun. Consider how much space you have and the growing habits of the plants you want to grow.
- How much sun does your plot REALLY get?
- Most annual flowers and veggie plants need full sun-that is at least 6 hours of direct sun every day. Any less and your plant will get leggy and probably won’t produce. Stressed plants are also more susceptible to diseases. Not sure what kind of sun your plot gets? Email Chelsea and she’ll be happy to walk you through it! Stuck in the shade? Don’t worry! There are many beautiful plants you can grow! Start here for some ideas.
- Map out when to grow what.
- The best way to get the most out of your plot is to time your plantings so you get spring (cold) crops, summer (hot) crops, and fall (cold) crops. Check sew and maturity dates when seed shopping. And remember the first rule of gardening: Don’t be precious! Get excited to yank spent pea plants in time to sew bell peppers.
- How many seeds do you really need?
- Most seed packets come with 250 seeds per envelope. Talk to your fellow gardeners about sharing seed packs.
- Okay! You’re ready! When do you start your seeds?
- Here’s a handy calculator to help you start your seeds on time. You’ll need to know our last frost date which, according the The Farmer’s Almanac, is April 1 this year.
Take a look at our updated Resources page for a list of the best places to buy seeds. And here’s a fun podcast about seed shopping to get you excited! Happy planning!