Not the happiest campers after three days and nights of frost protection, peppers and eggplant have one day and two nights more under row cover, if the forecast is to be believed. But the 15-day forecast a week ago was for no more cold nights, so…who knows! We’ve had about a week of frost warning nights so far since the second week of May, which I don’t think I’ve seen before. Normally, the covers would come off during the day, but with everything else to do now, and the kinda elaborate weighting-down-with-rocks setup, it’s simpler to leave it in place till the end…
Brought in our compact collection of pumpkins today, ahead of likely frost this weekend. Never been big on pumpkins as far as quantity, but they are fun to have around. This year, some standards like Connecticut Field, a bunch of Small Sugar pie pumpkins—always handy—and one novelty type, Jamboree, in a fetching shade of greenish-grey-blue. Some went into the seedling room, the rest, under cover in the tiny greenhouse. One more fall thing done…and it’s still SUMMER!
First frost on Friday? It all depends on whose forecast you believe in. Because, as I’ve discovered over time, all weather forecasts are not created equal. The online weather page we’ve used for the last few years is often in sync with the others, but when it comes to cold, it can go its own way, and it’s usually right. Here, we have a low of 1°C for Friday, OR, I can go for a more veggie-friendly choice of two 6°C’s and a 5°C, from three of the big weather outlets. That’s the difference for me between row covering all the tender crops we’d like to save, and…not. There is a pattern: sites like this one that’re based on Environment Canada’s weather service (that’s the Canadian government) tend to be several degrees lower and more accurate. So it’s on with the row cover on Friday, then wait and see!
Today I marked the official farming wall calendar with the weekly weeks-to-transplant countdown: 11, 10, 9,… I do this every year, and usually a lot earlier than this! Because so much is kinda, well, UNKNOWN this growing season as far as overall production conditions on the new farm, my reaction is not to overplan and not try to anticipate every last possible potential problem. I suppose the approach varies by the person! Anyhow, having those numbers finally up there on the wall somehow really gets the adrenaline going…
What that “11” represents is 11 weeks to average last frost date, which around here is May 18 (I actually backed it up by one day, to start on a Sunday, just felt like it). This is a pretty arbitrary number, weather conditions have consistently varied SO MUCH in the last few years, last frost is ony a loose guideline. It’s something to base the gambling on.
So, it’s now 11 weeks until the odds are even that there’ll be no more frost, the soil has warmed up sufficiently, and it’s reasonably safe to transplant. From this, I can figure the timing of seed starts.
It goes like this… For tomatoes, I aim for about 6 weeks from sowing the seed in plug sheets to transplanting, so I still have FIVE WEEKS before starting toms. But, I usually want to have at least 100 tomato seedlings ready to go 2 weeks earlier than that, in case the weather’s really good, and for that I have to start in 3 weeks. Peppers I aim for 8 weeks, so that’s start in…3 weeks.
Broccoli, cauliflower and other brassicas are only around 6 weeks, BUT, they’re quite cold-hardy and can be transplanted out 3-4 weeks BEFORE last frost, sometime in the last half of April, so that means the first wave starts in a week or two! Onions and leek can also go out early, and are indoors for around 10 weeks. Some onions are already started, and the rest have to be started right about NOW.
And so on, for around 20 veggies that start as transplants…
The scratchy “11” on the calendar was originally a “7”—at first, I accidentally started numbering backwards from April instead of May. For a moment there, that was a shock! :)