Tomatoes: check. Peppers: check. Onions: forgot to order—moving on. Basil, radishes, lettuce: check, check, check. Cole crops: started. Greenhouse: steamy. Garlic: growing strong. Now when can …
Tomatoes: check. Peppers: check. Onions: forgot to order—moving on. Basil, radishes, lettuce: check, check, check. Cole crops: started. Greenhouse: steamy. Garlic: growing strong. Now when can we get this party started?
For my fellow gardeners in zone 5b, the frost date seems unrealistically far away, and yet the work never stops.
May 15 is that magic date when everything we’ve been stockpiling in the basement can come out and get transplanted.
Given the unhealthy pile of new goals and lofty aspirations, the basement has been busy and not unlike a disco depending on the hour, because our grow lights have been in constant rotation on their timers.
In an effort to figure out our own preferences on a few things, we have a number of seeds we’ve started. We also plan to direct-sow—or plant seed directly—in the soil once the weather permits.
We did this to compare how they react to our climate, and see which method provides a better result by the end of the season.
We also have a few different varieties of essentially the same thing. Consider the tomato situation, which is nothing if not a game of constantly falling behind and playing ketchup.
All said, we have six different varieties growing at the moment, which might seem like a lot until you consider the Heinz 57 achievement. So I suppose in reality we’re only 51 steps away from certifiable insanity. Or was that 51 steps away from a million-dollar idea? Not as likely, I’ll admit.
Still, here we sit with another week or so to go until the official frost date. Looking at the forecast, the temps have finally settled out at a nice low 70 average. After the last week of monsoon season, I’m also relieved to see several days of clear skies and sunshine to truly confirm my suspicion that this is in fact the end of winter and the start of the growing season for us northerners.
I’m already planning my trips down to central PA, but despite the green fields I have been seeing down there, waiting here turned out to be the right move.
I was waiting until after this past week of high 30s to attempt any significant direct sowing outside the greenhouse. The ground, however, could be another matter entirely. I had gotten much of our immediate tilling done nearly two weeks ago. Now, the rain has compacted some of that soil back down and I need to fluff it once again before we plant.
However, even now there is a lot of water in the ground, and to try to till that soil now would just result in some expensive mud pies.
What’s more, the planter might have a similar problem, and the head would just get gummed up.
Conclusion: the wait continues.
The way out here, we try to cut corners where we can, but nature has a way of making us stay in line. There’s a reason we don’t have an abundance of sweet corn on the Fourth of July. We would love to enjoy these things, but it isn’t worth killing the crop.
Frost date or not, there are a lot of things that keep us from working on the fields when we want to, but nothing so permanent as to keep us from coming back when the threats pass.
For some, it even pays to gamble on these early-season factors; they gain a week if it pays off. As for those who have a complete lack of good luck, we look to the Farmer’s Almanac, among other things, to keep us honest and to stay out of trouble.
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