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Short Season Garden Tips, Issue #001 --Planting Time in Zone 3
May 29, 2021

Welcome to Short Season Garden Tips, for planting season 2021.

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It is finally planting time in Zone 3!

If you live in a cold climate and you listen to gardening podcasts or subscribe to gardening YouTube channels like I do, you know that many gardeners have been outdoors for months, but not so here in Zone 3.

However, it is now safe for planting many things here. If you are an early gardener, you have probably already planted your cold hardy plants.

Peas, onions, spinach, Swiss chard, and all your brassicas (broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choi, Brussels sprouts, etc.) are frost hardy, and can go in as soon as the ground can be worked. Basically, that means that the soil is no longer frozen, and it has dried out enough that it does not clump together when you dig in it with a spade.

Carrots and beets tolerate frost well, but the seed may rot before they germinate if the ground is too cold. Still, by the middle of May, that danger should be long past.

Here on the final weekend of May, everything but the heat loving plants such as corn, tomatoes, peppers, squash, pumpkin, and cucumbers should be safe.

I wanted to leave you just a couple of quick tips for the last of your planting before I head out to the garden this morning.

If you are new to gardening or new to your area, check your Spring and Fall Frost Dates. You have spent all this time planning, amending the soil, starting seeds indoors, or spending money on plants, and maybe even done some winter sowing. Make sure it is safe for those heat loving plants before you permanently install them in your garden.

Of course, if you are direct seeding into the garden, the frost will not harm the seeds so check the germination times on the seed package and count backward from your last expected frost date to figure out when it is safe to plant. Corn does not transplant well so you probably want to direct seed that.Cucurbits such as cucumbers, squash, and pumpkin can also be direct seeded and sometimes even will surpass the transplants, especially those that are not properly hardened off.

Tomatoes and peppers will only succeed in Zone 3 as transplants, so you never want to direct seed them into the garden.

You should never set out any transplants with out first hardening them off. In other words, you want to allow them to gradually adapt to outside lighting, and weather conditions. Set them outdoors for increasingly longer periods of time over a week to ten days, ideally in a sheltered shady location, especially at first.

When you do transplant your seedlings, try to pick an evening before a cloudy or even rainy day. If that is not possible, provide temporary shade for your plants with cardboard or some other temporary structure for the first few days.

Unless you are prepared to watch the weather closely and cover things up at night, do not set out your frost sensitive transplants until all danger of frost has passed.

Even then, you can expect surprises in the weather, so be vigilant, watch the forecast, check daily to see if new seedlings have emerged, and be ready to act if frost is imminent. If you really want to get a jump on the season, consider a cold frame, low tunnel, or even a simple cloche to keep your plants protected from adverse weather.

Whatever you do, get out there and plant a garden. That is my plan for today!

Happy gardening,


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