One of the great things about living in a sub-tropical climate is the extra long garden season. They say we have 360 growing days per year. That’s true. Sort of.
The time table for this region is great. For other regions, it is important to start planning early by purchasing seeds to start indoors according to your growing season. The garden season for zones two, three, and four is much shorter than zones eight, nine, and ten.
AccuWeather.com provides a map with a historical average, actual weather temperatures as they occurred for the current year, and for futures months it provides the historical averages. It goes back one year and forward one year so you can see the differences between what happened for each time period compared to the historical average. This is important to planning when to plant your garden out doors.
If you discount the days where the temperature is too hot for anything to do well, the number of good garden days is decreased by 60 days to 300 days. If you take out the days where there “might” be a night time freeze, then you are down another 30 days to 270 growing days per year. Adding back in the days you can be growing plants in your home or greenhouse, it’s back up to 365 days. This increases days for harvest and amount of food harvested.
Since weather is unpredictable, we pay attention to the historical patterns and how it is different from recent years. There was a warmer difference of from five to fifteen degrees in January of 2013 compared to the historical average. But, there were also some days cooler by five degrees.
Starting seeds indoors in July and early August assures your garden plants will be safe from the summer heat and ready for the fall garden. Seed selection should include those plants that take longer than you would like until harvest.
What you plant should take into consideration how you will transplant them to your garden and when. Read seed packages for information about how long till harvest and how well they do when transplanting.
Some garden plants do very well with transplanting and others die if the roots get disturbed. The strong plants can be started in almost any container that allows you to remove the plant from the container easily. Plants that have sensitive roots should be planted in biodegradable containers that are planted as is in the soil.
We consider the amount of produce needed to pack for the season and plant our garden accordingly. Some for sale and some for canning and freezing. By choosing different produce for the three harvest seasons, we can produce a greater variety and set aside more product for the year.
If you purchase seeds, it is important to buy your seeds in the spring when they are readily available and in good quantity. It doesn’t matter that you won’t plant them in your garden right then. It is important to have the seeds when the right time to start them rolls around.
By the time July and August come around, the seeds you want might be sold out locally. There might still be some to purchase on the web. But, most companies run out the most popular items early. Placing orders in advance is helpful too.
Start the seeds of the longest growing time first. Some crops take 120 days to mature. Others take a mere 25 or 30 days. With good planning there can be harvest nearly every day of the year in this climate zone. Other zones require better planning to make the most of the growing days.
Seeds are a good investment. Gardens are a great way to spend time with family and friends. So much so that even the government recognizes the ability to increase independence and provide a nutritious diet for families. Because of this, the USDA allows food stamp recipients to buy seeds with food stamps. If the store does not apply the food stamps to your seeds, be sure to point out to them they are violating the law by disallowing them. Give them this link http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/retailers/eligible.htm. It is the definitive answer to the question for retailers.