For many of us, the last-frost date is already here or is quickly approaching. That means it’s time to get outside and plant your heirloom seeds!
(Don’t know your last frost date? Click here for help.)
For the next month or two (once you’re out of frost/freeze danger for good) you can start planting summer crops. You can plant in pots or directly sow them in the ground.
I like to direct sow my crops directly into warm garden soil. When the soil reaches a temperature above 60 degrees, you can safely plant by direct sowing. However, the best germination doesn’t always begin until soil temps reach around 70 degrees or higher.
Don’t know your actual soil temperature? Try sticking a cooking thermometer into the soil first thing in the morning. This will give you a good indication of your soil temperature within a few degrees either way. You may want to repeat the test a few days in a row to make sure your result is accurate.
Another sign it is approaching the right time to safely direct sow into your soil is when you begin to see trees leaf out and spring flowers, such as irises, begin to bloom. You can also talk to area farmers, gardeners, and check with local gardening supply stores if you are worried it is too early to begin.
What summer crops can I directly sow into pots or into the ground?
You can still plant spring crops like lettuce, beets, peas, carrots and so on, but you may need to give them some shade now that temperatures will be warming up. Cooler climates can sow spring crops all summer long with success. Warmer climates can enjoy spring crops if there is enough shade cover and temperatures don’t get too out of control. Hot climates (or locations with little shade to offer) may need to wait to sow those spring crops again until the fall.