It's that time of year again! Time to start your seeds and prep your gardens. Does that mean you should be starting all of your seeds, though? Not really. Different seeds will require different amounts of time to reach maturity. One of the trickiest parts of gardening is timing everything to be mature when you want it to be. Today I’m going to help you understand how you can schedule your planting to align with your desired harvest dates.
It will be essential to keep a few points in mind as you plan. First, you will need to only work with plants that are able to grow within your area. Different climates cause different lengths of growing seasons. Some plants thrive in long hot seasons, while others do well in the cool spring months. Get familiar with your area by learning your Hardiness Zone and getting your local growing season information from a local extension office. Your local extension office is an extension of your state's Land Grant University, where you can get gardening advice tailored to your climate. They can also run a soil test to better understand what you should amend your soils with.
The next step is to identify the days to maturity on your seed packets. If you have not yet ordered your seeds, you can find this information on your seed company’s website. When making a plan, you should start with your desired harvest date and work backward. The days to maturity will tell you how many days you need to count back for the planting date.
At this point, you should compare your crop schedule to your growing season. Do the seeds need to be planted before your last potential frost date in the spring? You may need to use season-extending devices such as covers, greenhouses, etc. Or is your harvest getting close to the approach of winter weather? You may need to utilize similar covers to protect your harvest from frost damage. If your desired seed variety requires more time than your climate can allow, you may need to look into other varieties that are able to handle your growing conditions.
Below is an example of how you can plan your garden needs. Record this information for each variety you want to plant. Utilizing programs such as Microsoft Excel can allow you to organize the information, making it easier to keep track of your information as you go. You could even add other important dates such as fertilizer or pest treatments and observations about each crop.
|Seed Variety||Name||Days to Maturity||Plant Date||Transplant Date||Harvest Date|