Seeds forum: # of Weeks before average last frost

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Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Roses
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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Joannabanana
Jan 23, 2011 11:55 AM CST
The early seed starting season has begun. In Calgary, it still a bit early for most seed starting.

The average last frost date here is May 23rd. So in this area, we are currently 17 weeks before the average last frost

What's your area, your average last frost date and how many week are you before that date?

Name: Donna
Winnipeg, Manitoba Zone 4
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Perennialgirl
Jan 24, 2011 8:46 AM CST
Joanna is there a handy link to find out how close we are?
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Roses
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Image
Joannabanana
Jan 24, 2011 8:49 AM CST
Here's one for Canada

http://www.veseys.com/ca/en/learn/reference/frost/canada
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Roses
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Image
Joannabanana
Jan 24, 2011 8:52 AM CST
Here's a link that has some US locations. Perhaps some of the Southern Folks would share their favourite source for that info

http://www.veseys.com/ca/en/learn/reference/frost
Name: Emily
Mid-Cape Cod, MA. zone 7a
Charter ATP Member
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CapeCodGardener
Jan 24, 2011 10:25 AM CST
Joanne, this is a perennially-interesting subject for me. As a complete newbie to New England gardening five years ago (moving from Monterey on the central coast California where it MIGHT freeze once every 4-5 years!) I have scouted freeze-data lists ever since I moved here, trying to get some hard-and-fast rules that I could understand. Plus, it seems to vary on Cape Cod from town to town! The website below gives a lot of information for Massachusetts ("Hyannis" is our Cape Cod reference-point) but I still find the probability rankings confusing. Here's what I'm finally come up with in our 7a zone, after five years of asking local gardeners and observing my own plantings:

The average last date of possible frost is May 25. You can start hardening-off seedlings in a cold-frame or with other protection but things don't really start to grow in the ground until the first week of June.
We have a long and relatively warm Fall, but you will have a frosty night for sure by the end of October.
Condensed version: just remember "Memorial Day" and "Halloween."

Edited to add that that makes me about 17 weeks before last frost date as well!

http://cdo.ncdc.noaa.gov/climatenormals/clim20supp1/states/M...
Name: Donna
Winnipeg, Manitoba Zone 4
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Perennialgirl
Jan 24, 2011 11:03 AM CST
Thanks, Joanna. Mine is two days later than yours..... May 25th.
Name: Chris
NW Pa, Near Lake Erie
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Ladygardener1
Jan 25, 2011 7:15 AM CST
Emily, I am around the same time as you and I use "Memorial Day" as a base. I also set out plants on a hardy bases. Such as plants that are tough and can take a bit of cold go out first the more tender plants like impatient go out last.
I have a yard that has lots of trees so if they are fully leafed out they protect the plants from frost kill. My friend whose gardens are out in the open with no trees has to plant out later then me.
I also have old bed sheets stored in the basement just in case.
It amazes me how many people get in a rush to set out plants just because the box stores are selling them and then return later to buy replacements after the frost gets to them.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Jan 25, 2011 8:15 AM CST

Moderator

As in most things, I kind of fly by the seat of my pants on this, too. I have seen published last frost dates for my area as early as mid April and as late as mid-May. The frame of reference that most people (including me) seem to use is Mother's Day, or sometime around May 15. Even with that, I have had to cover things in late May for a late spring frost. It only happens about once a decade, but it does happen.

I have no qualms about planting out wintersown perennials early. I've done that as early as April 1st. Hardy annuals, too. But for tender ones started under lights or nursery-purchased ones May 15 is average for me. And before I do that I check the 10 day forecast and make sure there are no predictions for frost or near-frost conditions. That's after hardening off, which I usually start by March-April on warm spring days.

I honestly think I have more problems here with heat than with too cold. If I don't plant out early enough, seedlings struggle trying to establish in frying heat. And maybe drought too.

Karen
Name: Emily
Mid-Cape Cod, MA. zone 7a
Charter ATP Member
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CapeCodGardener
Jan 25, 2011 8:32 AM CST
That's a helpful reminder, Chris--I forgot about the tree-protection, which I have a certain amount of, notably under a big evergreen. It works in the fall, too--I now remember that my impatiens (grown from seed under lights) lasted and looked better longer into the fall than in some that I had set out in front of my house (shaded but no tree protection.)

I remember during my first Spring here in April when I saw all the pretty annuals that had arrived at our local Agway plant store. I wanted so badly to buy some to plant out, but the helpful salesperson confided that if I did so, I'd just be back in a few weeks to re-buy everything! She said they only put them out from the growers because people insisted on it, and that it was a pain to keep protecting them at night!

It's just so hard to wait!
Name: Emily
Mid-Cape Cod, MA. zone 7a
Charter ATP Member
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CapeCodGardener
Jan 29, 2011 9:52 AM CST
Just wanted to inform all my seed-starting friends of the John Scheeper's timetable below, which talks about indoor seed-starting for different zones:


http://www.mailermailer.com/x?function=view&c=90664527w-0c35...
Name: Donna
Winnipeg, Manitoba Zone 4
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Perennialgirl
Jan 29, 2011 10:21 AM CST
Great info! Thank you, Emily.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Jan 30, 2011 6:05 AM CST

Moderator

Thanks, Emily.

That's my biggest challenge in seed starting- knowing when to start. One year I started tomatoes so early that I fed the first ones to the compost and started over. This year, I already started a small tray of begonias, probably too early. Now I'm debating when to do impatiens. I did a few last year, started too late, and they were pretty small when I planted them out. If I could get the start date right my life would be a lot easier! When do you seed impatiens? Stokes says Jan. 25th - Mar. 15th., and that's a pretty wide window. I'm thinking mid February.

This is probably one of the reasons I like wintersowing so much- once I stick those jugs outside, it's in Mother Nature's hands to decide when they should sprout.

Karen

Name: Chris
NW Pa, Near Lake Erie
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Ladygardener1
Jan 30, 2011 8:58 AM CST
I use a google spread sheet to track my seed starting endeavors. It is free to use and can be customized to your needs. My only problem is not updating it once the outside gardening season begins and have to do it from memory, but it is a big help each year. You can also print out copies if you want to keep then in a paper file.
https://spreadsheets.google.com/

Sorry I tried to get a direct link to mine but it is not working. Will try again on another post.
Name: Emily
Mid-Cape Cod, MA. zone 7a
Charter ATP Member
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CapeCodGardener
Jan 30, 2011 2:21 PM CST
Karen, I know exactly what you mean and I keep trying to find the perfect timing for starting my seeds. Last year I sowed my impatiens under lights on March 26, which was nine weeks before our average last frost date. I'd read instructions that said "sow impatiens seeds 8 to 10 weeks ahead of last frost" so I compromised on 9! Because our spring is slow in arriving this is a lot later than other areas of the country.
And I ended up with a lot of burly seedlings that took up all my space. AND I always sow lots because I like to plant them all over the garden. No exception with these impatiens; they were about 3-4 inches high when I finally dared to plant them out the first week of June. It's finally dawned on me that maybe the reason those seed-packets give such a wide range is that people's seed-starting environments can be so different. Duh! Light going on in brain! ;-) Since I use heat mats to germinate, cover with the BioDome to keep seeds moist, and keep the temperature as close as I can to the recommended one, maybe I WILL have faster germination!
So THIS year I'm going to start them later--maybe 8 weeks ahead (not a giant risk-taker here.)
By mid-July of last year they were providing some show in the shade border:


Thumb of 2011-01-30/CapeCodGardener/31e839
Name: Emily
Mid-Cape Cod, MA. zone 7a
Charter ATP Member
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CapeCodGardener
Jan 30, 2011 2:37 PM CST
Chris, thanks for the link to the Google spreadsheet. I went to the site and the application looks user-friendly. Last year I created my first Excel spreadsheet for both WS and indoor seed-starting: 145 seeds from amaranthus to zucchini. I tried to put every possible scrap of information appearing on the seed packets into various fields, and I ended up with a thing of beauty but so complex that when gardening heated up, I stopped entering data. relying Back to good old memory! I'm going to do another spreadsheet this year--maybe the Google one-- but make it simpler, and I'm definitely going to take my little pad of paper around with me and write down germination data and growth results and enter them all in a timely fashion.
Is January 30th too late for new year's resolutions?
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Jan 30, 2011 3:23 PM CST

Moderator

Your impatiens are beautiful, Emily.

Impatiens are so readily available here that I'd just as soon buy the plants. But last year I searched everywhere for 1 inch cells and couldn't find them. They were all 2" cells. I stuffed those through the holes in my Bloommaster pots, (about 1" holes) and eventually they did recover. But the roots were messed up enough that it took a while. I want some skinny cells, that's the only reason I'm going to start some from seeds.

Thumb of 2011-01-30/kqcrna/629c2f

Karen
Name: Donna
Winnipeg, Manitoba Zone 4
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Perennialgirl
Jan 30, 2011 4:05 PM CST
Karen, I like your pot with the mix of coleus and impatients.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
Image
kqcrna
Jan 30, 2011 4:29 PM CST

Moderator

Thanks. But those side holes are only about an inch in diameter. 1" cells work great, but I can never find them locally anymore. So if I use bigger cells I have to squish them through. It doesn't kill the plant, but it does set it back some.

Karen
Name: Donna
Winnipeg, Manitoba Zone 4
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Perennialgirl
Jan 30, 2011 4:52 PM CST
Can you maybe make the holes a bit bigger?
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
Image
kqcrna
Jan 30, 2011 6:04 PM CST

Moderator

I don't think so. You do need some actual pot left to hold dirt in. I'll just grow my own plants in the size I want.

Karen

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