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Hello Guest!
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Seed starting dates.

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Post  SQFTBIX 1/6/2011, 12:42 pm

Do you use the dates in Mel's book or do you go by another source when starting seeds indoors? There are so many divergent views. Just wondering.
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Post  Furbalsmom 1/6/2011, 12:49 pm

I used the weeks before last frost dates from Mel's All New Square Gardening Book. I also checked the Old Farmer's Almanac which had similar information.

You need to determine if you will use the Average Last Frost Date or the last historical frost date which will be later.
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Post  quiltbea 1/6/2011, 7:57 pm

I choose my own frost free date. Our springs have been improving. I take the Map's last Frost Free date then predate it about 10 days to 2 weeks and use that as my personal Frost Free date. With the use of row cover (the heavy one that protects to 28*) plus some towels kept handy so I can cover by seed beds at nite, I've been lucky. I also place gal-size milk containers over my plants and put the lid on in the afternoon to save the heat during the nite.
Before I even start to plant outdoors, I've covered the chosen beds tightly with plastic for a couple of weeks so the soil has warmed up.

The calendar tells me in my area of Maine the last Frost Free date is May 30th but this year I'm choosing the week of May 10th. I can always leave the started seedlings inside if its still cold or we're having drenching rains and the soil needs to dry out. The seed beds can be covered with old blankets or towels if necessary.
If I lose some to a killing frost, I still have time to plant others.
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Post  camprn 1/6/2011, 8:49 pm

quiltbea wrote:I choose my own frost free date.
If I lose some to a killing frost, I still have time to plant others.
+1
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Post  Megan 1/6/2011, 9:27 pm

I had May 9 written in my booklet for last year. Except we had Snowmageddon, etc., around here last spring, so my beds were being constructed at the end of April. I direct-seeded and plants were up in early May.
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Post  Mikesgardn 1/10/2011, 1:55 pm

We are lucky in Central Maryland because the University of Maryland Cooperative Extensions has prepared a "Vegetable Planting Calendar for Central Maryland". It includes dates for growing seedlings indoors, transplanting times, and times for seeding outdoors. You can get it at this website:
http://www.growit.umd.edu/Food%20Gardening%20Publications.cfm

The calendar is at the end of the list.
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 1/13/2011, 10:38 pm

Agreed with choosing your own date. However, Mel's "before last frost" dates are good guidelines to start with when you have no experience.

As you learn, you will inevitably add covers, hoop-houses, warming plastic, etc to extend your seasons. By that time, you will know when you can start what.
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Post  ander217 1/14/2011, 9:08 am

This is the best map I've found for frost dates. It states that there is a 50 percent chance that the last frost will occur after the spring date given, or before the fall date. So even the average frost dates can be way off.

Frost dates map

If I understand correctly, those frost dates are based on the climate trends which are formulated from data reported from over 3000 weather stations across the US. The latest trend data that was reported came from the period of 1971-2000 which was considered an "abnormal" period. I think the next one will be based on 1981-2010. I read recently that they are expecting a change since the 1970's will be dropped, which was the period of abnormal trend. (If memory serves, I think that decade was cooler and wetter than normal.)

If you like reading technical data, check out this site which gives info based on 3-month trends. It discusses La Nina and El Nino activity and temperature and moisture predictions, although it doesn't give specific expected frost dates.

NOAA 90-day predictions

The next report is due out on Jan. 20 which should give us better indications of what to expect in spring.
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Post  camprn 1/14/2011, 8:40 pm

Thanks for the links Ander!!! Very Happy
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Post  trustinhart 1/14/2011, 8:52 pm

Tomorrow, 1/15, going to be 48 degrees, cold frame is ready and the seeds are going to find new homes!! Wooooo Hoooooo
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Post  Blackrose 1/14/2011, 9:03 pm

trustinhart wrote:Tomorrow, 1/15, going to be 48 degrees, cold frame is ready and the seeds are going to find new homes!! Wooooo Hoooooo

cutesie
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Post  camprn 1/14/2011, 10:28 pm

Well, I'm not going to start any seeds any time soon, but I thought I would share this blog entry fromChiotsrun.com good tutorial.
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Seed starting dates. Empty Nice link

Post  ander217 1/15/2011, 8:27 am

Great link, Camprn. Thanks.

Did you read the comment which said that misting seedlings with chamomile tea helps with fungus problems?

Has anyone tried that?

BTW, I just realized I never did really answer SQFTBIX original question. I loosely follow the expert's suggestions, whether it's from Mel or the NOAA site or the Farmer's Almanac which are usually all in the same ballpark. But I would rather start too soon than too late. One can always hold over large transplants another week or two inside if the weather hasn't yet settled. It's more difficult to make tiny plants grow faster if they aren't large enough to be safely transplanted.

Timing isn't so critical here for things like tomatoes and peppers which grow in the heat of summer, but it makes a big difference in spring crops which may fail if they don't produce before summer heat arrives. I opt for the earliest dates for cool-weather crops. In fact, I should be planting the seeds for transplants now. If a late freeze is forecast after I set them out in the garden I'll cover them and hope for the best.
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Post  camprn 2/18/2011, 6:16 am

I am not sure if anyone else posted this before, sorry if it's a repost. So here is another great seed starting calculator.
Seed Starting Calculator from Johnny's
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Post  Megan 2/18/2011, 6:42 am

Oh, that's a nice calculator... thanks!
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Post  jerzyjen 2/18/2011, 9:57 am

That is awesome. And here I have been hand counting the weeks. I plug in the dates into a google calendar to keep me on track when life gets busy but this handy dandy calculator will make life even easier Smile
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Post  FarmerValerie 2/18/2011, 12:28 pm

I also keep an eye on the Farmer's Almanac and Weather Channel's rainfall info, we have had 2 wet springs, where it was too wet to plant, let alone walk in the yard. Putting plants out would have killed them (we had no hoops-still don't yet) and we would have been stuck up to our knees in the clay in the yard, stranded for days until we could dig out. I literally walk out of my boots when its wet out there. I too would rather be on the safe side of being late getting them out, than having seedlings ready to plant, and no way to get out there to plant them.
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Post  Megan 2/18/2011, 12:33 pm

I have no really good place to start seeds indoors, though I may try the spot I used last year. (I am reluctant as it ended up mostly being a waste of seed, last year.) But I was out barefoot in the front yard yesterday morning and the bark mulch felt SO NICE against my feet!
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Post  quiltbea 2/18/2011, 2:23 pm

I try to mitigate the long wait due to rains.

I had sheets of plastic large enough to cover my raised bed boxes. When the snow leaves the area and spring is on its way, I cover some of my boxes with the plastic so it not only warms the soil a tiny bit, but keeps the spring rains from keeping the soil a soggy mess. It sure helped me last year to get a head start.Seed starting dates. 03-18-10

Here are some of them covered on March 18th.
Seed starting dates. 03-19-12
On March 19th I built my A-frame.

Seed starting dates. 04-12-11
On April 12th I had greenery popping up their little heads in one half of the A-frame. I had planted Mesclun mix, carrots, radishes, scallions, spinach, lettuce on that side.
Seed starting dates. 04-17-11
Then on April 17th my garden was covered in snow, but the veggies in the A-frame did well and the covered boxes stayed dry.
Seed starting dates. 04-29-10
On April 29th the veggies were covered with Agri-bond, the heavy-weight row cover that protects down to 28* and my broccoli, cabbages, parsley, lettuce and a couple other herbs fared very well despite the freezing nites.

Its surprising what a little extra help will keep your garden growing and thriving. I'll start early again this year and hope for the best.
Seed starting dates. 05-12-10
On May 12th I had fresh Mesclun mix and radishes at lunch and our last frost date still hadn't been reached.

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Post  Megan 2/18/2011, 2:33 pm

Gorgeous! Love your A-frame.

How do you like to eat your radishes?
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Post  quiltbea 2/18/2011, 2:51 pm

Megan,
I love radishes raw so have them in salads all the time.
I'm so happy they grow so quickly to satisfy my spring mouth-watering urge for fresh veggies.
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 2/18/2011, 4:11 pm

Awesome synopsis, Bea. I love that you had veggies before last frost.
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Post  Megan 2/20/2011, 6:46 am

These are all wonderful links and great information, everyone. I am going to summarize links (and add a few more) for the Mid-Atlantic region, to make them a little more accessible. Post coming up soon!

Link here: https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t5287-mid-atlantic-last-frost-dates-and-related-handy-links-for-us-and-canada#44289

Happy gardening! flower


Last edited by Megan on 2/20/2011, 9:17 am; edited 1 time in total
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Seed starting dates. Empty Great Calculator!

Post  Goosegirl 2/20/2011, 9:13 am

Calculated, printed, and saved in my 'puter and Favorites! I am going to compare it my handwritten calendar and see if I was even close!

Thanks camprn
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Post  gineen 3/1/2011, 1:10 am

I think seed starting dates vary by crop, it also changes if you are using a garden blanket or doing transplants.
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