Growth Chart

In my part of the Rocky Mountain Region, the “final frost date” is approximately May 10, give or take a few days.  That is an important date to know because it is sort of a gardening ground zero – the date around which all your garden grows!


Find your Final Frost Date!

Here is one link to help you find it.  Knowing your area’s final frost date pretty much works for anyone anywhere as far as when to plant what.  So, I am going to use the abbreviation FFD to indicate that is what I am talking about when I tell you my own personal plan of spring garden-action below. 

Now everyone from my sister Tami in Corbin, KY to my sister-in-law in Aberdeen, SD, my mom in Springfield, Mo and even my fam in Butte, MT or Hobart, IN can use these numbers!

Seeds to sow indoors NOW! which can be planted outdoors after the FFD:

cucumbers, squash, zucchini, parsely*, cilantro, peppers*, tomatoes*, annual flowers (petunia, marigold, zinnia, etc), onion seeds (or wait and buy the seedlings) 

Seeds it is OK to plant outside now because you can plant them a month or more before the FFD

carrots, radishes, peas (snow peas, old-fashioned garden peas or my FAV-sugar snap peas), swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, mesclun mix, onion sets

FFD – Don’t rush it

After Mother’s Day, weather-permitting, you can start plopping established plants in everywhere.  I do have some sweet banana peppers growing on the windowsill, but most of my peppers and all of my tomatoes will come from pre-established seedlings I pick up at the nursery and they will not be planted until mid-May or after if I fear the night temps will drop below 55-degrees or so.  I can find a great variety out here in “farmland country” at locally owned farm stands.  So, planting seeds for these is not my deal.  I will have squash and zuch ready to go at that time. 

I only have 3 4 ft. x 4 ft. garden boxes for my veggie garden, although I also tuck stuff in here and there around the rest of the yard and use containers, too.  So buying a parsely plant or two makes way more sense than buying a whole package of seeds and feeling compelled to plant every single one and then not having anywhere to place the plants in the garden, anyway.

Make yourself a List!

After the FFD, I will plant both seeds and seedlings.

Pre-established seedlings: started by me or purchased

Tomatoes (I’ll buy)
Peppers (I am already growing some, others I will buy)
Cucumbers (I may seed indoors-or just directly outdoors…don’t know yet)
Zucchini  (I have some started, will sow more outdoors)
Squash (same as zucchini)
Cool stuff I find at the nursery like herbs or lemon cukes, etc
PLUS-fill those pots with flowers! (annuals will provide the most continous color-punch for the immediate  buck, but perennials are an investment that will serve you year after year)


Seeds: Straight into the soil

Beans (grown them vertically for space-saving)
More lettuce, More spinach, More radish (these are all cool-weather, so it would be the last planting of them, though currently, you could plant a few more weekly for varied-date harvesting)
More zucchini and squash for subsequent harvests
Giant sunflowers for the grandkids, pumpkins and gourds (I plant the stuff that thrills the grandkids – big things, colorful things – for fun!)

It is important to note that where my radishes and lettuce and other cool-weather plants are right now, by July will have been replaced by warm-weather plants like tomatoes and peppers and zucchini.  The same garden will be totally different – filled with flowers and herbs and other heat-lovers.  I don’t have much space, so I use succession planting and timing to get the most out of it!

Bonus tip:

If you want to garden, but are afraid, start with a “salsa garden.”  Go ahead and plant your oinion sets now (they are sold in bags or bunches in the garden section and look like mini dried onions.  Then, plant your peppers and tomatoes after the FFD.  Add some cilantro seedlings then, too and you’ll be off to the races for some late August salsa you’ll actually dream about!

OK-so this post was all over the map.  There are many other things you could be planting, but these are my must-haves.  I am also going to try to do potatoes this year for the first time.  They should already be out there!  Yikes!  The thing is-I can look at that list and know, OK-this week I can do this.  Next week I can do that.  And it isn’t all one, big, heavy to-do list.  Here a little, there a little…

Go sit in the Garden…

Mission: (Are you sitting in the garden?  No?  Then go there before you even attempt this!)  So, today – make a list of veggies you want and decide which you’ll do from seed and which you’ll do from seedlings.  If you just go stand in front of the seed display, I promise you, you will buy tooooooooo many seeds and either waste them or never plant them.  Go eeeeeeeeasy on yourself!  Then [1] go ahead and plant seedlings and seeds that can go out now  [2] plant some seeds in cups indoors if you are going to – a thrill for the kiddos  and [3] let the rest slip from your mind until it is time.

Going to the garden…Jeanie

pictured: one evening last summer ~ the last of the lettuce and spinach and radishes (which were mostly gone) and where the large pepper plants were about to get sunk.

2 thoughts on “Growth Chart

  1. I’m thinking I must have had some bad experience when I was a kid with growing things because in the back of my mind, I think things don’t really grow from seed. I know it is crazy but I actually look at seed packets and think they won’t work. Ha! I am going to start tomorrow planting some marigolds seeds that I gave away at Women in the Word (there were some leftovers). I even may get my salsa garden box ready for some onions. I want to watch some seeds grow.

    I wish you could see my incredible orchad. Gardening friends are jealous. It has 8 blooms and 8 more ready to go. I do nothing but water once a week with a drop of basic H from Shaklee. I may try to take a picture and send it to you.

    1. Well, I did see it in the home tour photos on the pedestal table and it is a thing a beauty! I am sooooo afraid of orchids! I, in fact, have been planning to go get a FAKE one from Michael’s because I have the perfect container, but just don’t want to risk having a sickly real one. Ha!

      Seeds are a bit tricky, but some are easier than others and marigolds are a great starting place. As are green beans, peas and zucchini/yellow squash. Keep they in the dark to germinate, but in nice bright light as soon as they sprout and outdoors? The sooner the better so they don’t get all leggy and unhealthy. Better yet-sow all outdoors! :)

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