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instructions on seed packages?

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instructions on seed packages?

Post  jarity on 12/16/2014, 9:31 am

zone 6a (chicago)
was wondering how to interpret the directions that say,"plant as soon as the ground can be worked". nothing about "days before last frost"?  i have a 4 x 8 low tunnel (hoop house) 3' high, poly (6 mil) covered and row cover (light) as second protection so the ground under the hoop house will thaw out (if even frozen) way before the last frost. are they taking into account seeds under cover?
i would appreciate it if anyone can clear this up for me. i did do a site search and found nothing that addresses this issue. this is my first year gardening.
thanx

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Re: instructions on seed packages?

Post  quiltbea on 12/16/2014, 11:12 am

If you have space under cover and the ground won't re-freeze, then by all means sow your seeds.  Many plants can take a bit of cold but not frozen feet.
The purpose of covering rows is to get an earlier start to your growing season or a later harvest on the fall end of the season. 
They may be a bit slower to gain growth because of the sunshine issue (not enuf too early in the season) but they'll get started if you don't plant seeds more than about 6 weeks before you normally would outdoors.  Remember, sunshine is also a factor.

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thanx

Post  jarity on 12/16/2014, 1:15 pm

much appreciated

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Re: instructions on seed packages?

Post  Marc Iverson on 12/16/2014, 2:34 pm

Welcome to the site, jarity!

Keep in mind that planting early is always a gamble. Nobody really knows for sure when the last frost or freeze will be, or how bad it will be and how long it will last. It wouldn't hurt to keep some seeds in reserve, just in case.

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Re: instructions on seed packages?

Post  boffer on 12/16/2014, 2:38 pm

You'll find that directions on seed packages are very generalized. From when to plant, to days to harvest after planting. I've had the same thought as you because most years my ground is only frozen for a week or two.

So what we have to do is consider whether the soil temps are warm enough to get a good percentage of seed germination, or if the weather is warm enough for transplanted seedlings to grow, and if there is enough sunshine.

In the back of the ANSFG is a table that shows germination times for various seeds at various temps. Use that as your guide.

Personally, I always push the early limit for cool crops under hoop houses. If they don't make it, there's plenty of season left to replant.

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Re: instructions on seed packages?

Post  Kelejan on 12/16/2014, 3:04 pm

Jarity, most seeds are so cheap you can try and try again if need be. When it works, great results.
I am going to try planting something earlier this year as out winter is far too long and I want something growing outside. I am preparing one of my beds for it.

In case I have missed you, then welcome to our group. happy hi

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beyond me!

Post  jarity on 12/16/2014, 4:42 pm

trying to respond to everyone that has taken a bit of time to help me out.
first..the seed cost is irrelevant true enough but.. it is tying up the space
in my wee hoop house. (4' x 8'). i live in the city and community garden space is at a premium.
rather to plant a quick one of the hardy asian greens or wait and plant my snow peas (Dwarf White Sugar Snow Pea)and brocolli?
my last frost date is april 15 and i am wondering if i cannot plant in feb.under cover? as the day light time returns to 10 hours.
boffer- yelm, wa, usa is zone 8a? i am reading(elliot coleman) that each cover pushes my zone back? is this true to the best of your knowledge? if so then the planting date depends also on my amount of cover. i am now  in zone 8 with poly and row cover!?? this makes no sense to me.
i am trying my best to understand. the more i read the less i understand! 
what is the earliest U guys plant in zone 6 or colder?? and what do you plant?
thanx again.

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Re: instructions on seed packages?

Post  walshevak on 12/16/2014, 5:24 pm

I would tie up a few squares with hardy greens just because I love them and would be willing to try.   If they don't take, then you still have plenty of time to plant your peas. Or plant half a square with greens and leave the half nearest the trellis to plant with peas later.  If you keep the compost (food) levels high, the climbing peas will grow up over the leafy greens and soon you may have both.  Try germinating the peas before planting.  And late Feb early Mar sounds like a good time to make the first effort.

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Re: instructions on seed packages?

Post  boffer on 12/16/2014, 7:45 pm

One thing  you'll eventually learn is that backyard gardening is a big experiment.  Sometimes we do everything right, and get poor results; sometimes we do every wrong and get wonderful results.  That's what everyone is suggesting: try something.  It might work this year, but not next, or vise versa.

Like QB suggested, the starting time recommendations for some  cool season plants is 6 weeks prior to your last frost date,  so you're really not that far off.  Another thing you can do to maximize the length of your growing season is to start your seedlings indoors.  Plant the seeds in Jan and transplant them in Feb.

Another planting layout option is to plant your greens along grid lines, leaving the center of the squares open for additional planting at your time of choice.  Regardless of time of year, that's a good way to maximize the space.

Cool weather plants can survive freezing weather, but they don't necessarily thrive until it gets warmer.  I've had a couple years where peas planted in mid-March didn't produce a harvest any sooner than peas planted in May.  It all depends on the weather that year.

I'm next to the foothills, and colder than in town, so I'm more 7a-7b.  My BIL is 20 miles away near Puget Sound, and gets the warming effect from the water; he figures that he's  8b.  We don't do any outdoor winter vegetable gardening because most years winter sunshine is a rarity.

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Re: instructions on seed packages?

Post  Marc Iverson on 12/16/2014, 8:25 pm

Jarity, space and time, for most people, are indeed a big consideration. Every action has its opportunity cost, so a square that lies fallow while a seed fails to germinate can cost you weeks of time.

That's one reason it's a good idea, like boffer says, to start your seeds indoors. That way you at least know you are starting out with something (a viable seedling) rather than nothing(a seed that may never germinate).

It's also a good reason to stagger your plantings. Those that don't thrive, well, it's not so bad if you have younger plants waiting to take their place, until finally over time all your squares are filled. A side bonus is that your harvest window can be extended that way too. Extra seedlings you never use aren't as bad as having squares you really wanted to use go fallow.

So, think about not putting all your eggs in one basket. That way you can only have partial failure, not a complete wipe-out.

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Re: instructions on seed packages?

Post  sanderson on 12/16/2014, 9:13 pm

@boffer wrote:
Another planting layout option is to plant your greens along grid lines, leaving the center of the squares open for additional planting at your time of choice.  Regardless of time of year, that's a good way to maximize the space.
.
I like this idea.

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Re: instructions on seed packages?

Post  AtlantaMarie on 12/17/2014, 9:04 am

Me too!  I see more changes coming...

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thanx ever so much!

Post  jarity on 12/17/2014, 7:02 pm

i am somewhat amazed at the members going out of their way to loan me a little advise. i think i am going to attempt to combine the knowledge here and come up with a somewhat viable solution. only problem is jump start by growing indoors. the problem i will have here is (according to my studies) hardening them off. i live on the 9th floor without patio. my hoop house is a mile away. out on the sidewalk they will be stole so i might have to forget indoor planting cause i have no space to harden them off. albeit there is enough info here for me to learn and build upon what has been given and make my own mistakes from here.
thanx ever so much guys members.

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Re: instructions on seed packages?

Post  boffer on 12/17/2014, 7:21 pm

Your questions are appreciated because gardeners like to talk gardening!  

Contrarily, I don't harden off cool crop seedlings.  The late winter, early spring sun isn't strong enough to cause problems in my climate.  I rarely have a seedling die.  

Just one more thing for you to consider! Rolling Eyes

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Re: instructions on seed packages?

Post  sanderson on 12/18/2014, 12:04 am

@boffer wrote:Your questions are appreciated because gardeners like to talk gardening!  
+1 We are a gabby bunch!

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Re: instructions on seed packages?

Post  AtlantaMarie on 12/18/2014, 9:50 am

@sanderson wrote:
@boffer wrote:Your questions are appreciated because gardeners like to talk gardening!  
+1  We are a gabby bunch!

+2!  And most of us like to give & get advice!  It's all a learning process...

You might consider cracking a window by them to let some breeze start the hardening process.

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Re: instructions on seed packages?

Post  walshevak on 12/19/2014, 9:56 pm

I've found that it isn't the cold as much as the hot, direct sun and drying winds that kill off my non hardened plants.  When I put a bit of protection over them for a week or so after transplanting, they do much better.

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Re: instructions on seed packages?

Post  Turan on 12/19/2014, 10:41 pm

@walshevak wrote:I've found that it isn't the cold as much as the hot, direct sun and drying winds that kill off my non hardened plants.  When I put a bit of protection over them for a week or so after transplanting, they do much better.

Kay
+1

But a light weight cloth over them so they are in filtered light.  They can usually handle cold pretty well.  I seldom bother to do the whole hardening off thing, especially with early crops like broccoli and greens but I do cover them for sun burn and then that helps modify the nights as well.

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Re: instructions on seed packages?

Post  Marc Iverson on 12/20/2014, 3:50 am

We get stiff winds occasionally -- really just rare bursts of them -- down our hillside, and I've lost quite a few seedlings simply from the wind snapping them off or bending them too much for them to pop back up. Some row cover to block the wind has been a big help to me. It's probably also helping by moderating temperature extremes too.

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Re: instructions on seed packages?

Post  camprn on 12/20/2014, 8:43 am

@jarity wrote:
was wondering how to interpret the directions that say,"plant as soon as the ground can be worked". nothing about "days before last frost"? 
thanx

This means in springtime, when you can stick a garden fork in the ground and turn it over regardless of the ambient temperature , which could still be quite cold with some expected frost.

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Re: instructions on seed packages?

Post  jimmy cee on 12/20/2014, 9:35 am

@sanderson wrote:
@boffer wrote:
Another planting layout option is to plant your greens along grid lines, leaving the center of the squares open for additional planting at your time of choice.  Regardless of time of year, that's a good way to maximize the space.
.
I like this idea.
This is great, I would never thought of doing this

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