As I write this, Emmaus is getting socked with another winter storm. While I wait for warmer weather, here’s a quick project that will keep my mind focused on the garden: I’m making a planting calendar.
I start with a wall calendar that leaves plenty of blank room for writing, and I mark my “frost-free” date on it: May 10. That’s the day I can be 99 percent sure that all spring frosts are history in this part of Pennsylvania—and the day that all my planting calculations are based on.
Next I go through the packets of seeds I will be sowing this spring and read their advice for when to plant. Some seeds will be direct-sown in the garden. For example, the spinach packet tells me to sow seeds four weeks before the frost-free date. I count back from May 10, and on the week of April 10–16 I write “sow spinach outdoors.” (Determining the week for planting is close enough. It doesn’t have to be the exact day.) For seeds that I’ll start indoors, it’s a two-step process. First I need to decide on the transplanting date—for cold tolerant transplants like lettuce, that might be three weeks before May 10, while heat-lovers like peppers must wait until two weeks after May 10. I mark the transplant dates on the calendar, then count backwards to determine when to start the seeds indoors.
When it’s done, the calendar is a week-by-week checklist of all my planting and transplanting dates. Can you tell I like to be organized? I would hate to realize in June that I forgot to plant the kohlrabi! —Doug Hall