In my last Square Foot Gardening post I detailed my planting layout plan and provided the identity and sources for the seeds I will be utilizing. This post will focus on my proposed timing schedule…
The first, and possibly the most important, thing to determine is the date for the last frost. This will serve as the starting point for the planting schedule to then compute starting dates for seeds that will be germinated indoors and those that will be sown directly into the soil in the square foot gardening beds.
As you may already know, I live in Connecticut, in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 6b, so the first point of order is to check a few independent online sources and gather together their estimated last frost data :
About.com : April 15th
Plantmaps.com : April 21st – 30th
Old Farmer’s Almanac : April 26th
Dave’s Garden : April 26th – May 10th
As you can see there is a wide variety of dates. This occurs because different sources use different probability data. To clarify, take Dave’s Garden, April 26th has a 50% probability of a frost occurring, yet May 10th has a probability of only 10%, ie. almost no chance of frost. As it happens I prefer to use Dave’s Garden as it lists in a grid the range of probabilities and the associated dates as prepared by the National Climate Data Center (NCDC). You could also visit the NCDC site directly, but I find it to be difficult to navigate and full of politically-motivated pseudo-science which is quite frankly, best avoided.
So having read the grid, next get a feel for the trends in your local weather (speak to other experienced gardeners in your area) and make an educated prediction of when would be best for you to directly sow your seeds outdoors. Once you have established that date, it is easy to work backwards to calculate when to begin the germination process indoors for those seeds that require it.
For the indoor germination I will be using an NK Lawn & Garden 36 pellet greenhouse that I picked up cheaply at a local discount store and plan to place the unit in a warm and sunny window. You can purchase your own here.
So with a little over a month before the germination begins in earnest, it’s time to ensure the plans are in place and the necessary materials bought and available. Which leads nicely in to my next task, namely building the square foot gardening raised beds themselves and their support structures.