Friday, February 3, 2012

2012 garden planning

Since I am now fairly certain I will simply remain pregnant for the duration of 2012, I figured I better get cracking on planning my garden. Maybe making plans to over-extend myself will encourage this baby to make a more timely appearance!

Did you hear about the USDA's hardiness map changes? The Albany paper spoke with the ED of Landis Arboretum, which isn't far from our house, about it - I'm not terribly surprised to hear that the Arboretum will be selling two Zone SIX plants at the spring plant sale (we've always been firmly in Zone 5). In the article, Fred notes that successfully growing a Zone 6 plant will be dependent upon your local conditions. I know that our local conditions make it so that even a Zone 5 can be pushing it, but that's largely because we don't have many sheltered flower beds. Every winter a fierce wind comes whipping down the hill, and it's brutal on tender plants.

Anyways, this got me wondering - if things are warming up, should I consider moving ahead the planting of my garden? All the old-timers say to plant the garden Memorial Day weekend, but really, that's always seemed late to me, like I'm missing out on some quality growing time. Still, for the past few years I have based my seed start dates on the traditional planting weekend.

So I did a little research (aren't you surprised!). The Farmer's Almanac publishes a chart of what they consider to be the best planting dates for seeds, and another for transplants. Here's the transplant chart for my ZIP code:
Ignoring the moon favorable dates for now, we see that nearly everything starts with a planting date of May 15. That is nearly two weeks earlier than the traditional planting date.

But that wasn't enough for this intrepid planner, certainly not! I dug further and discovered the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Freeze/Frost Occurrence Data. This is way better. It tells me when there is a 90% chance, a 50% chance, and a 10% of 36-, 32-, and 28-degree temps. Why am I only just discovering this amazing chart?

Keeping the dates from NOAA in mind, the Almanac's suggested transplanting dates seem totally reasonable. This is awesome. Combined with a season-extending hoop house/row cover thingamabob I received as a Christmas present, I'm definitely going to get a head start on summer. The only bad thing is, I have less time to figure out seeds and seed starting. Guess I know what I'll be doing this weekend!

1 comment :

  1. Just to let you know: I've seen quince, camellias, and forsythia blooming, and it's just February . . .