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Early Plantings
2/29/2012  •  Comment
By HannahW

Winter is Ending


For winter's rains and ruins are over,
And all the season of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins

– Algernon Charles Swinburne


At first I enjoyed the winter respite from canning, harvesting, weeding and bug-picking. Now I’m eager to plant again.

A few things can go into the garden soon in my area (upstate NY, zone 4/5). I’ll plant peas and a first succession of lettuce and spinach as soon as the ground has thawed and dried enough so that a squeezed handful of dirt will stick together but won’t ooze water. 

Even before that I’ll start seedlings indoors.  Every year I start all my onions about three months before the official frost-free date, as well as peppers, eggplants, and the first of three lots of to-matoes (these I’ll plant at two-week intervals). It’s easy for me to do this because we have a good-sized attached greenhouse where the plants can get plenty of light and warmth; back when I just had windowsills to work with I started things a little later.

The peas won’t mind snow and cold, but they will stop bearing when the summer gets hot, so I want them to get an early start.  Often I can do this in March.  The lettuce can take a certain amount of cold but it’s less reliably tough, so I’ll keep planting successions. 

Come April I’ll start successions of brassicas and basil in the greenhouse and plant potatoes (at dandelion bloom), beets and carrots outside.  Beans and squash don’t go in until the week before the last expected frost. 

There’s an in-depth multi-zone planting schedule online here.  I find written schedules helpful as a starting point.  I keep garden records to give me an idea of which planting dates actually worked out well and which didn’t so that I can adjust my plans in future years.  More on record-keeping another day. . .

Tags: winter's end, spring planting, sowing, starting plants