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!
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  go ahead and plant seedlings and seeds that can go out now  plant some seeds in cups indoors if you are going to – a thrill for the kiddos and  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.