Week by Week Guide for Starting the Spring Garden

by - January 31, 2019

On this last day of January 2019 with a good portion of the country caught up in a polar vortex, I find myself longing for warmer weather and green vistas. Fortunately we have a mild weekend in the forecast. Mild weekends in February always get my garden gears going, but I have to remember that no matter what the groundhog says, there is more winter ahead. While it's still too early to start any new crops outside, it's not too early to put a few seed trays in sunny windows.

Typically I start planting seeds indoors right around Super Bowl Sunday. In Raleigh, NC, our average last Spring frost date is April 8, and we live in zone 7b. The Super Bowl (known to me as Super Sow Sunday) is this Sunday, February 3. Today while running errands, I'll be sure to pick up a bag of seed-starting mix. I should already have plenty of old seed trays on hand. I think I'm good to go on seed packets.

We have a fairly long growing season (over 200 days), and my rush to get peppers and tomatoes started indoors as early as possible is unjustified. My tomatoes are usually spindly and struggling by the time the last frost date has passed. As peppers love heat, my transplants usually bide their time and glow slowly until halfway through the summer and then go bonkers. My garden space would be better used by filling it with greens in the spring and waiting to put in peppers once those have begun to bolt. My motto for this year's garden will be "All things in their time." I'm going to exercise patience! For now, I'll stick to just a small tray of herbs.

Here are the weekly count down posts from last year, which include a variety of gardening topics and related tasks:

Start indoors and transfer outdoors after last frost (These plants are tender) Weeks before last frost date
Chives; Globe Artichoke; Leeks; Onions; 12
Celery; 10
Eggplant; Peppers; Tomatillo; Tomatoes; 8
Broccoli; Cabbage; Cauliflower; 6
Cucumbers; Melons; Okra; Pumpkins; Squash; 3
Pansies; Poppies; Snapdragons; 12
Calendula; 6
Marigolds; Zinnias; Nasturtium; Morning Glories; 4
Chives (Garlic and Onion); Oregano; Yarrow; Parsley; 12-14
Thyme; Chamomile. Feverfew; Catnip; 8-12
Dill; Chervil; Coriander; Lemon Balm; Sage; Savory; Basil; 6-8
Direct Seed in garden before last frost (These plants are hardy) Weeks before last frost date
Onion Sets; Seed Potatoes; 6
Kale; Kohlrabi; Spinach; Turnips; Mustard; 5
Beets; Carrots; Chinese Cabbage; Endive; Peas (English); Radish; 4
Lettuce (all types); Swiss Chard; 2
Direct seed in garden after last frost (Tender) Weeks after last frost date
Beans; Celeriac; Cowpeas; 1-2
Corn; Muskmelon; Watermelon; Okra; 2
Pumpkins; Squash; 2
Cucumbers; Peanuts; Amaranth; 2

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