By Michael W. Rundle
’17 Ag Club President
All too often, those that are not experienced in gardening plant their veggies way too early or way too late. Some on the other hand choose not to garden at all based on the fact they are inexperienced. I am here to tell you that you have nothing to fear. Aside from good soil and proper watering, timing plays a big factor on how well a garden will produce. Whether it be fruits and vegetables or flowers, timing is everything. Plant to early and you more than likely see you plants to an untimely death due to freezing. If you wait to late you will see one of two things happen. Your plants will lag and fail to grow properly or they will die off due to a lack of heat tolerance. Do not fear though, planting dates are never exact and there is no cut and dry day on when to plant below is a small chart that will help you determine what and when to plant.
As you can see there is quite a bit of room for error in your planting schedule. One thing that is popular among garden enthusiasts is to plant a little at a time in either two or three planting cycles. Tomatoes are one of the most popular crops grown by backyard gardeners. As you can see from the chart there is a six-week period in which you can start your tomato plants from seed. If you are unsure as to what the weather is going to do (this is popular even among meteorologist), you can plant three sets of seeds. At this point I am hoping you are asking yourselves how to go about this, let me explain.
First thing you are going to want to do is figure out what you want to plant, where you want to plant them and how many you can plant and or how many you want. Since tomatoes are among the most popular we will use those as an example. Six tomato plants are a good number to work with. As you can see from the planting guide you can start seeds on or around Feb. 15. I personally like to start a round of plants anywhere from two to three weeks early which starts my planting cycle off around the end of January. You do not want to plant all six plants in January, but go ahead and start yourselves three or four seeds. Wait two to three weeks and repeat. You can do this as many times as you like keeping in mind the planting guide, by the middle of march you will have anywhere from four to twelve tomato plants. Always keep in mind your original goal for your garden. You now have twelve healthy plants to place in your garden, or six for you and six for a friend. The biggest benefit to starting plants in cycles lies in the assurance that if one set of seedlings dies off you have another set to replace them. Don’t be afraid to get out and get your hands dirty, experiment from year to year. Remember, you don’t have to be great to get started, but you do have to get started to be great.