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Totally confused about planting dates

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Totally confused about planting dates

Post  greenmama on 4/7/2011, 10:25 am

Let me first make sure I am where I need to be. I'm in northern Virginia, near Mananas.

I have my beds all set up and now I'm totally confused as to what to plant when!

I like this website, http://www.gardenate.com/plant/Broccoli but find the terminology
confusing, so I just emailed them for clarification, but figured you
guys might be able to help faster than they will. My last frost date is
April 15th.

It's telling me:
March: plant undercover in seed trays and transplant out in 4-6 weeks.
April: Plant out seedlings
May: Plant where it is to grow.

Now, I am late to the game, and did not start any seedlings back in
March. I am going to buy some plants from the nursery (they are about
4" with leaves, but no head yet). Do I plant that now, in April? Or is
that too big to be considered a seedling? Do I wait until May? Or are
they saying Plant SEEDS "where it is to grow" in May?

Every calendar I look at is different, I don't know what things I can
still plant as seeds, what seeds I need to start indoors now for
transplant next month, and what I need to buy plants for and stick them
in the ground. Argh!

I bought all my seeds. I know some of them I am to late to use this year, and I will have to buy plants. But I'm not even clear on which ones I still have time for anymore.

Here's a list, maybe you guys can help!
-Beans (greenbeans, pole beans)
-Broccoli
-Cucumber
-Lettuce
-Peas
-Peppers (bell)
-Potatoes
-Pumpkins
-Spinach
-Strawberries
-Tomatoes
-Watermelon
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Re: Totally confused about planting dates

Post  Squat_Johnson on 4/7/2011, 10:56 am

I can try to help, I'm in zone 6.
Beans (greenbeans, pole beans) - in ground next week
-Broccoli - buy transplants, in ground now
-Cucumber seed in ground next week
-Lettuce (head type) buy transplants, in ground now (leaf) seed in ground now
-Peas -seed in ground now
-Peppers (bell) transplants, in ground next week
-Potatoes in ground now
-Pumpkins seed now
-Spinach seed now
-Strawberries transplants, in ground next week
-Tomatoes transplants, in ground next week
-Watermelon seed in ground now

Basically you are not that behind. My first several years I didn't start mixing dirt until now... Tomato and pepper plants are tender and don't like frost at all. The rest will tolerate a bit of cool, or won't germinate until it's likely warmer.

Get some nice looking plants, and "harden them off" by letting them sit in a shady spot so they can get *some* sun and wind for a couple of afternoons before you put them into *direct* sun and wind.

Good luck!
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Re: Totally confused about planting dates

Post  greenmama on 4/7/2011, 11:00 am

So when you say for instance "Spinach, seed now"--do you mean start the seeds indoors in trays now? or put the seeds in my outdoor gardens now?

I feel like I need a gardening for dummies dictionary :scratch:
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Re: Totally confused about planting dates

Post  boffer on 4/7/2011, 11:08 am

@greenmama wrote:I feel like I need a gardening for dummies dictionary :scratch:

Middlemamma started one last year. But I think she called it 'Simplified Gardening for the Village Idiot'. Seriously!!! I'll get her here to help out.
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Re: Totally confused about planting dates

Post  FarmerValerie on 4/7/2011, 11:31 am

Although it's great to have planting info specific to your area, in the back of the book The ALL NEW SQUARE FOOT GARDENING, is a planting guide that is simplified, pg 254. It shows you how many weeks before your last frost date you should be able to put things out. If it is a picture of a seed (peas, spinach) plant seed, if it has leaves, that means transplant. Don't worry where the transplants came from, I'm sticking bought ones out in addition to started from seed. I just cannot resist buying at least one plant pack each year.

Another great resources is http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2010/03/free-spring-planner.html

just print this out, figure out your last frost date, count the weeks back, add the dates, and it tells you what to plant, I love mine, It's small and very handy. There is one for fall too, but I cannot find it.
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Re: Totally confused about planting dates

Post  middlemamma on 4/7/2011, 11:58 am

Hey greenmama! It can be confusing can't it!

Boffer's right, I wanted to create a little glossary of terms for people like me...I lovingly call myself the village idiot. LOL

But I never actually got it done...maybe once we figure out your plants and get them in the ground while you are waiting for them to grow and NOT pulling weeds because you have a wonderful SFG, then you and I could collaborate on it!

It looks like you are a different zone that me...quite a bit warmer than me if you can even think about cucumbers going in the ground next week.

My advice would be at this point to DIRECT SEED (put the seed right in your SFG) all the seeds you can. Spinach, lettuce, peas should be ok.

Whenever your last frost is I would wait till after that to DIRECT SEED cucumber & squashes. Not only are they warm weather crops and DO NOT like frost, but they also (for me) are finicky to transplant. I couldn't get a cucumber to survive till I DIRECT SEEDED it last year...I must have killed 6 or 8 transplants. I would DIRECT SEED beans when I did the cukes too. They don't like frost either and they grow so freaking fast there really is no reason to start them inside. Smile

I defer to SQUAT on what he told you because he is in your area. When he says spinach seed now, he means in the SFG, not inside your trays in the house.


I am probably not as much help as boffer made it seem I would be.

First of all....take a deep breath. Close your eyes and pull up that mental image of your garden that you have in your mind....and then just tell yourself it's your first year and if you eat one lousy tomato you will be thrilled! Because you will get WAY more than that, because you are SFG'ing it!...and it's going to be fun if you let it be, and you are going to learn COPIUS amounts of info this year and next year you are going to hit the ground running and just be amazed at how "experienced" you feel after just that first year.

You are going to love this...just roll with the punches!

If I were you (I did this last year) I would take a few hours...and I would go walk through like a mom and pop hardware...we have Ace and Big R here, or a farm supply store. I'd just stand there....watch the seeds, watch who comes in. I'd browse the seeds and look. And when someone older comes in...and seems to be very precise in what they are looking for...they aren't hymning and hawing, they go straight to the isle and look very purposed, strike up a few conversations with these types. They will be happy to tell you how long they have lived there, what they grow, how long they have been doing it, pick their brains. It's the second best resource I had last year...right behind this forum. I never mentioned what I was doing, I didn't want to derail the conversation from when to plant what...because if you run into a row gardener and they are as passionate about their rows as we are our SFG's then you will get nowhere. Next year you can do the SFG hardsell….LOL. (wink wink) Right now, just focus on: this is my first year and I am so confused! I don't know when to plant what! What are you planting now? Next month? It works....Average out the info you get and voila!

Another thing you can do is call your local county Agriculture department and see what they can tell you or a local extension office.

Good luck!!! Keep us posted and keep the questions coming, we will do our best to help!
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Re: Totally confused about planting dates

Post  walshevak on 4/7/2011, 1:42 pm

You are not behind time except for maybe peas. You probably have another frost coming. beans, cukes, peppers and tomatos wait till May

I gardened in Fairfax in the 70's and 80's -not sfg- but a 12x152 plot in my back yard that was successful. Some things I didn't try to grow and I didn't try to push the envelope but here's what I did grow or would suggest based on my experience. Also, Memorial Day weekend was my "holiday" for the garden. Used the 3 day weekend to get things done. I also didn't try to start my own plants indoors.

Pole beans - direct seed mid May through Memorial Day
broccoli - transplants now and second planting in 2 weeks (I had space and also did cauliflower)

cukes - direct seed mid May - Memorial Day
lettuce - transplants now and seed now for a 2nd crop
Peas - direct seed now I used to direct seed mid March and then use the space for the pole beans.

pepper - any hot or bell transplants mid May - Memorial Day
potatos - didn't grow but would plant now
Pumpkins - didn't grow but directed seeded squash mid May -Memorial Day
spinach - transplants now and seed now for 2nd crop
strawberries - didn't grow and will defer to another gardener
tomatos - transplants mid to late May Even when I planted them in mid May the ones I planted Memorial Day always caught up and all produced about the same time

watermelon - didn't grow and will defer to another gardener

I also grew turnips(for the greens) and mustard greens that I direct seeded in early May - Memorial Day and set out collard transplants mid May - Memorial Day. Collards will take a good amount of heat.

As I said, I didn't push the season and never seemed to have time before mid May - Memorial Day to get into the garden, but I always had a successful one. You have a chance to get going earlier, but I know you can delay on some things and still have a good garden.


Kay

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Re: Totally confused about planting dates

Post  Barkie on 4/7/2011, 1:43 pm

I find this site - link below - good for what to do and when to do it because you set it for where you live and it adjusts the timings for you.

http://www.gardenaction.co.uk/main/USA_weather/weather1_usa.asp

There is also a beginners guide a section on techniques and all sorts.

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Re: Totally confused about planting dates

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/7/2011, 2:21 pm

Since we are all linking websites for you, here is my favorite one for determining frost dates and freeze dates in both spring and fall....all in table form with % chances. It's pretty neat. And, it has your frost date a little behind Tax Day. Either way, play around with it...

http://davesgarden.com/guides/freeze-frost-dates/index.php?q=20110&submit=Go

I would tell you that you don't NEED to start anything in trays indoors now, unless you are doing the warm season things like tomatoes. The rest I'd be sticking in the ground right according to whatever plan I have set for myself.

Happy Planting!!
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Re: Totally confused about planting dates

Post  greenmama on 4/7/2011, 4:26 pm

@FarmerValerie wrote:Another great resources is http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2010/03/free-spring-planner.html


OMG. I'm addicted to that website and her printable booklets now! Just spent an hour reading everything, and printing planners. Thank-you so much!

You know what's driving me batty, is everywhere I look, I'm being given a different date. By a week or two (April 10-22). I guess that isn't so bad, maybe I'm being too technical with things. But then I called my local extension agent and she said after Mother's Day in May ?! What!?! Now that's waaay off! I don't know what to believe anymore. I think I'll go with the April dates, since that's what every website suggests.

But to the poster who said it was to early for cucumbers, oh yes, definitely. I was just giving my over all list for everything from now to fall.
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Re: Totally confused about planting dates

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/7/2011, 5:08 pm

You know what's driving me batty, is everywhere I look, I'm being given a different date. By a week or two (April 10-22). I guess that isn't so bad, maybe I'm being too technical with things. But then I called my local extension agent and she said after Mother's Day in May ?! What!?! Now that's waaay off! I don't know what to believe anymore. I think I'll go with the April dates, since that's what every website suggests.

I agree completely. I found the exact same thing when I started looking. I went with the one I linked because he broke things down so much better. St. Louis people will tell you "tax day" and Dave says April 7th. That's 8 days difference. I'm sure it makes a difference quite often. But, I don't really care. I took steps to guard against frosts and decent freezes with a hoophouse. If you do the same someday, a week or so won't make much difference anymore to you, either.

Happy Planting!
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Re: Totally confused about planting dates

Post  Squat_Johnson on 4/7/2011, 5:15 pm

To answer that question way up... Spinach in the ground, about 8 weeks before last frost, but go ahead and plant now anyway, they are cool weather, and you might want to pick them small before they "bolt to seed". I have had good results with planting lettuce and spinach on the shady side of something like a tomato or broccoli. The smaller plants will get shade when the Broccoli gets big.

I also use this planting planner:
http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2010/03/free-spring-planner.html
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Re: Totally confused about planting dates

Post  middlemamma on 4/7/2011, 5:19 pm

Greenmama,

What I have found is that with my garden I just become a boyscout and "Be Prepared." My date here is May 15th. We had a freeze in the first week of June that killed every warm weather start I had. If I had had hoops...I would have been fine...it was just one night.

This year I have hoops and I plan to plant May 1st...it gives me a couple weeks extra and peace of mind.

There is no magic date when the weather says...oh...I have to be warm now. Thats why you are getting all different dates. Computers get the input and then spit out, based on statistics a date. Mother nature then does whatever she wants to.

Not being able to be PRECISE drove my OCD up the wall the first year....now I am learning if I am prepared....then I will be fine. Plants and the weather could give a rat's patootey about my OCD. LOL
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Re: Totally confused about planting dates

Post  greenmama on 4/7/2011, 6:00 pm

@middlemamma wrote: Not being able to be PRECISE drove my OCD up the wall the first year....now I am learning if I am prepared....then I will be fine. Plants and the weather could give a rat's patootey about my OCD. LOL

Oh you too huh? Very Happy There must be something about the whole measuring everything off into neat little square grids that attracts us Type-A OCD people Laughing I'm getting a kick out of all my charts and planners, while my husband just kindly rolls his eyes.
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Re: Totally confused about planting dates

Post  FarmerValerie on 4/7/2011, 7:03 pm

I went from OCD to CDO (same thing, letters are just in ABC order like they should be) then I graduated with a degree in A-N-A-L. I have since learned to not sweat the small stuff, cuz as Dr. Phill said, "You can be right, or you can be happy".
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Re: Totally confused about planting dates

Post  middlemamma on 4/7/2011, 7:05 pm

LOL I am happy when I am right and everyone else knows it!
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Re: Totally confused about planting dates

Post  gingeandhales on 4/7/2011, 8:47 pm

@walshevak wrote:You are not behind time except for maybe peas. You probably have another frost coming. beans, cukes, peppers and tomatos wait till May

broccoli - transplants now and second planting in 2 weeks (I had space and also did cauliflower)

Kay
That was a very useful post. I am also in Zone 7, though I am much further North than you and the op. When you say 2nd planting in 2 weeks, do you mean to direct sow the second planting, or do you mean add a second set of transplants in 2 weeks? I'm not doing broccoli, but I am doing broccoli raab and they seem to have very similar guidelines. I direct sowed my broccoli raab last week, was that a huge mistake?

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Re: Totally confused about planting dates

Post  walshevak on 4/7/2011, 9:27 pm

I meant a 2nd planting of transplants.

Fairfax, VA is "right around the corner" from where the OP lives and that's why I decided to tell about my experiences and to assure the OP that she is really right on time. I had good luck with my gardens when I lived there. I'm much farther south now, about 50 miles below Norfolk, and doing my first sft this year.

Kay

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