Ask a Question forum: Why planting dates for 6a differ in different calendars?

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Name: Bhingri
(Zone 6b)
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bhingari
Feb 22, 2014 11:34 AM CST
I am a comparatively new veggie gardener in zone 6a. I was googling for planting calendars for Providence and found two that are quite different
1. This one on this website http://garden.org/apps/calendar/?q=Providence%2C+RI gives the dates for eggplants - sow seeds indoors: Feb 6 - Feb 20 and transplant Apr 16 - Apr 30
2. SouthsideTrust an urban gardening not for profit gives the dates as start indoors in April and Plant seedlings in June. (estimated days to harvest 60)
I have seeds for an eggplant variety that says "Days to maturity after transplant - 70-90" so I am worried that the second option might not give me enough time to harvest before it gets cold. Last year I planted nursery bought eggplant seedlings in second week of June and had to give up on the plants when they still had fruits.
So I was thinking of going with the first calendar on this site but I am worried that I would loose the plants altogether planting that early (April 16-30).

Can somebody explain why the two calendars give so drastically different dates and what are the risks in each of the options?
What in the weather do I have to watch if I am going to plant outdoors end of April?
Should I plant some seeds according to one and some according to another? I don't want to take up too big an area in my first trial at veggies.
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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eclayne
Feb 22, 2014 12:35 PM CST

Plants Admin

Hi @bhingari,
I'm sure someone will be along to answer your questions. For starters I believe Providence, RI is in z6b, not z6a. Here's a link to the USDA map. http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/#
Does Southside Trust give you dates specific to the Providence, RI area? Do you have a link to the Southside Trust website?
Evan
[Last edited by eclayne - Feb 22, 2014 12:36 PM (+)]
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Name: Bhingri
(Zone 6b)
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bhingari
Feb 22, 2014 12:58 PM CST
This is the link for the southside calendar. http://www.southsideclt.org/sites/default/files/plantingsche...
They do not give exact dates.

Thanks evan for pointing out that I am in zone 6b. I checked the link to the map you gave and it really is zone 6b. :)
The zone 6a I got was from my last year's googling. I can't be sure how I got it. So I guess I can do things earlier than the other RI areas in zone 6a.

Name: Bhingri
(Zone 6b)
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bhingari
Feb 22, 2014 1:11 PM CST
I was checking another hardiness map that gives local level details and the line that separates 6a and 6b goes right through providence so northern parts are cooler than the ones closer to the sea. That makes sense to me.
How much does it affect the plants?

I know I am overthinking it but to me this hardiness zone stuff is not intuitive. I did not grow up in US.
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tropicals Foliage Fan Bulbs Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
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eclayne
Feb 22, 2014 2:53 PM CST

Plants Admin

Do you see the little map at the top right of the planting calendar page? I believe that shows the weather station used for "...your frost-free growing season..." It's in between Cranston and Warwick. You can always pick a nearby station (just click on it) that has a later last frost date. West Thompson Lake, CT for instance has "On average, your frost-free growing season starts May 11 and ends Oct 2. http://garden.org/apps/calendar/?q=West+Thompson+Lake%2C+CT
Evan
Name: Bhingri
(Zone 6b)
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bhingari
Feb 22, 2014 4:37 PM CST
Yes. Got it. Thanks a lot

Devayani
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Feb 22, 2014 8:27 PM CST
I would try to judge sowing dates and transplanting dates by the date of your average last spring FROST, not your USDA hardiness zone. (Or, for eggplants, your average last cold night.)

The hardiness zone only reflects the coldest temperature your area is likely to see in an average year.

One good way to judge the best dates for your area is to find a nursery with experienced growers and a lot more concern for their customers than the big box stores. When THEY start selling a certain kind of seedling, THAT is a good time for your region. Home Depot and supermarkets will set out seedlings whenever optimists and procrastinators are likely to buy them!

We do have a "Northeast" regional forum, but they have gardeners from Maine to Connecticut.

Consider Zone 8 which you can find in parts of the country as different as Texas and coastal WA. In the PNW, it gets warm enough to harden off and plant out tomato seedlings around the same time that some parts of Texas are getting temps hot enough to stop their FIRST tomato crop from setting fruit.

We have mid-winter nights of similar coldness, but WA has cold and cool spring nights MUCH later than Texas.

My "average date of last spring frost" is April 6 or April 19, depending on which weather station is more similar to my microclimate.

Dave's planting calendar takes that into account, so the question remains "why does planting advice differ?"

Some advice will be optimistic and list a date for the earliest that your plants will probably not be harmed much by cold as seedlings. They might also think that the "slow maturing" varieties taste better or yield better or just that you might have slow maturing varieties and a short growing period, so they "go early".

Another source might pick the safest date much later, sure to be warm enough for seedlings and just assuming that you have a long growing season and/or fast-maturing varieties.

Watch for advice on a seed packet like "and re-sow every 2-3 weeks for continuous supply". That means that you could sow on the stated date OR much later and still get a crop.

I would say that when you are new to a region or new to growing a certain crop, start one small patch early, one in the middle and one later. One or two of those dates should grow obviously better than the other(s) and next year you'll know when to start that variety in your yard.

This is why crop labels outside need the sowing date (and transplant date) as well as the variety.

I never keep good records, but that is the only way to remember what worked well and what you learned NOT to do again!
http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/1438/Organized-Sowing...


Or, if there's only room for one crop, be cautious and start it at the later date suggested if your springs are prone to late cold snaps. Or be cautious and start it early if it is a cool-weather crop and you're concerned that your scorching summers will dry it out before it matures.

Providence summers won't fry eggplants on the vine, will they? So you only need to worry about an early Fall cold snap shortening your growing season.

Eggplant is so heat-needy and New England springs are so whimsical and untrustworthy that I would "go late" and wait for weather to be WAY past frost, very settled with warm days and not-too-cool nights before setting out eggplants. Just be sure to pick a variety with DTM short enough that they will mature during the steady-warm season.

(If you were growing cool-weather lettuce and spinach, the shoe would pinch in the other direction, and you might "go early", hoping for a mild spring, because you know that "cool weather" will be over by late May or early June.)
Name: Bhingri
(Zone 6b)
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bhingari
Feb 22, 2014 10:02 PM CST
Thank you very much RickCorey for putting so much time to explain things in detail.

I had thought about 'later is better for eggplant' just to err on the safer side but had not thought of lettuce the other way. Those are the two things I have in mind and some peas, guar bean etc. I am not so worried about them because the packet says to sow them every 3 weeks so I was thinking at least some of them will make it Smiling
As you suggest I should make note of all the trials I do so that I will at least learn for the next season.

The big mistake was to order seeds from SeedsofIndia website without knowing the time to harvest. I assumed it was 60 days but when I got the seed packet I realized it was 70-90 days after transplanting. sigh. I have a feeling it is not good for the providence weather. More of a NJ weather variety where seedsOfIndia is from. Will see how it goes this season and try some shorter time variety next time.

Good idea about taking the cue from a good nursery. Do you think Burpee is trustworthy in this respect. That was my first instinct to see when Burpee will start shipping eggplant seedlings to my area. They start as early as April 28. But a local nursery might be more useful in terms of knowing the micro-climate I guess.

Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
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greene
Feb 22, 2014 11:17 PM CST
Look up URI - University of Rhode Island County Cooperative Extension Service for information on the varieties that grow well in your new climate. I used to garden in the same zone as you live now, but when I moved I trusted out local county cooperative extension service to give me good local information.

All planting calendars are a guideline - nothing is carved in stone. Some people rely on the Old Farmers' Almanac calendar. For my money, I wouldn't put the eggplant in the garden in Providence before mid-May, but that's me.

Yes, always keep a journal - that will also help later for crop rotation, etc. And take photos, because we like to see pictures!
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 23, 2014 12:36 AM CST
You are very welcome.

It was a good idea to check with local cooperative extension agents and nearby university ag departments. Google search for them or I have a link in my signature block: "Coop Extension Finder ". If you find a nearby nursery or garden shop that invites Master Gardeners to come in and answer questions, they probably care about good advice and repeat customers.

I don't have any experience with online companies delivering seedlings at the best times for towns everywhere in the country. I would rather trust a local store if you can find one with a knowledgeable manager who cares about his or her reputation.

I'm guessing that eggplant should be set out AFTER tomatoes. Maybe around the same time as peppers? Or even later?

P.S. It will matter probably a lot how close to the water you live and which way the local wind patterns flow.

If you look at the ATP Members Map, there are three ATP members who live near Providence. They might share their planting dates for lettuce and eggplant.
http://garden.org/users/memberlist/map.php

Would any of you have planting dates you would reccomend for the Providence area, for eggplant and lettuce?
@susansconi
@BobsterRI
@belaschick

Of course, there are lettuce varieties for early spring only (like May Queen), middle and later spring, early or late fall, and even lettuce varieties that do well in summer (Batavian) or mild winters.

You can look up the seeds you have here, or pick some varieties and then shop for those:
http://garden.org/plants/browse/plants/children/77401/
http://garden.org/plants/group/lettuces/search/

Too bad we didn't ask for a multiple-choice field in the Lettuce database like "suitable for these seasons". That's pretty subjective and varies regionally, but it would be a starting point for searches.

As a rule of thumb, if you want the lettuce to stay sweet and not bolt as spring turns warmer, look for "resists bolting" in the description.
Name: Bhingri
(Zone 6b)
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bhingari
Feb 23, 2014 7:44 AM CST
Thank you Greene and RickCorey.
I will look up URI. Right now I have the eggplants planned to be set out on the weekend of May 17-18. So far so good.

Thank you very much for the map. I was wondering how to search for people on the forum in my area.

Last summer I saw that SouthSide community land trust had workshops for various things gardening but their website is not updated yet. Their workshops start in June which will be too late if I am trying to grow from seeds. I will go visit their office one of these days and see if I can find a local community of gardeners.

Just found out that Southside and Roger Williams Park (with URI) is going to have a workshop on March 8 to help start the growing season. :)
Will keep you posted of how that goes.

I am super excited now. Will post photos as the growing season gets underway. I am trying some Indian varieties so it should be interesting.
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Feb 23, 2014 10:19 AM CST
Sounds good!!
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Cindi
Wichita, Kansas (Zone 7a)
Charter ATP Member Plant and/or Seed Trader Permaculture Roses Ponds Peonies
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CindiKS
Feb 27, 2014 9:04 PM CST
Your questions got me interested also, so I did some searching. You might call your local Master Gardener Hotline. They get these kinds of questions all the time.
http://www.uri.edu/cels/ceoc/ceoc_programs_geh.html
It looks like their gardening education program is superb, and they even offer free seeds!
Take them up on it!
I'm in zone 6b on some maps, 7a on others, and one has me as 6A! From year to year, though, it really differs. I still have eggplant on the plant well into November some years.
Our Extension service has a free weekly online newsletter that is most helpful. It addresses the current weather, instead of just using past averages. You might see if you have such a thing there.
I tip my hat to you.
Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.
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