Is It Time to Plant?

One of Dirtynailz' raised beds, as yet unplanted.

Here’s HerbDoc with one of the oldest gardening questions: Is it time to plant?????

The days are finally getting longer, and the winter has been almost balmy, but is it time to plant? Gardeners need to remember that sowing too early doesn’t get you off to a fast start if the soil isn’t warm enough to germinate the seeds!

There’s an optimum temperature where almost 100% of the seeds will germinate, but most of us are just too antsy to wait for that to occur so we plant as soon as possible and are happy with less germination. My grandmother (my gardening mentor) always started off her vegetable gardening year with peas that she insisted had to be planted on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th. For us, endive, peas, carrots, lettuce, radish and parsley will give decent germination when the soil temperature reaches 40 degrees. Other practical temperatures for germination are:

  • Spinach, turnip 50 degrees
  • Cabbage, Swiss chard, corn, tomato 55
  • Cuke, peppers 65
  • Beans, squash, eggplant, pumpkins 70

These temperatures are useful when starting indoors too, as with peppers, tomatoes and eggplant. Use a heat mat and a soil thermometer to gauge the temperature. Heat mats come in various sizes and usually cost from $17 up. Soil thermometers can be as inexpensive as $5: I prefer digital ones that resemble cooking thermometers. Check local gardening suppliers or search online.


About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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