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When starting to plant your garden pay attention to the weather and soil temperature. The planting zones are good guidelines to follow, but always pay attention to the long-term forecast. Here we are on the edge of zones 5 & 6. Some years we have an early spring (like this year), some years there’s a late frost (like 2018 & 2019).
My recommendation is to plant as early as you can, but insulate if you are able. Temporary greenhouses can be made from PVC or other sticks and clear plastic
. This gives early plants a bit more humidity, protection, and heat. You can also keep old blankets on hand or buckets and cover the plants in pots or planters when a frost is predicted.
Common garden plants that like the cooler weather: lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, and peas. These were planted in my garden in April (minus the beets and cauliflower – we don’t like to eat those, so we don’t plant them). The lettuce and spinach I reused old water tanks that were either rusted out or broken bottom (thanks to my sister’s horse).
The broccoli, I attempted a makeshift temporary greenhouse to try and protect it a little, to give it the best chance. The seeds I planted as an experiment are coming up and very few of the plants survived. I struggled to keep the cover up and the soaker hose I was using was not watering as well as I thought it was. I am going to try for a fall crop in the rows that didn’t make it. So be looking out for that coming this fall!
For zones 5 & 6 usually by late May the weather is good and soil temperature warm enough to plant the rest of the garden plants. Ideally you would stagger planting, but by May I’m ready for everything to be in the garden and I just plant the rest of the plants within a few days. Make sure you have something to mark your rows and plants. I use metal stakes and flags that I can stick through the seed packet. For marking varieties, I have used spoons
, tongue depressors
, or other markers
from when I started the seeds inside. However, nothing is safe from the re-labeling of a young child.
Mapping the garden out ahead of time also helps with staggering the planting (see last week's post). You can plant the different plants in their respective spots without having to plant everything at once.
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