How to pick the best day to plant!

How to pick the best day to plant and tips for the most success!

My seedlings are getting big! The weather is getting warmer! It’s so tempting to just plant them out right now, but I must resist! How to pick the perfect day to plant your seedlings for the most success!

How to pick the best day to plant!

Wait for the temperature to rise

For most summer crops like tomatoes, they like it to be at least 50 degrees F, and better yet 60 degrees, as the lowest temperature at night. Any cooler than this can stunt their growth and delay flowering.

My rule of thumb is to look at my last frost date, and then look at the 14 day forecast and see how low the evening temperature drops each night.

Pick a date after it doesn’t drop below 50 degrees anymore. For my last frost date of May 6th, I’ll probably plant out my garden after May 22 because it doesn’t drop below 50 degrees after that.

Check the moon phase

I also like to follow a moon calendar to help my planting schedule.

So I will look at my area and find the first “above ground” planting day after my last frost.

Avoid planting or sowing seeds during “barren” phases of the moon, this month that will be May 13 to May 19th for me. Another reason why I’m waiting a few more weeks.

The calendar will tell you which days are best for planting flowers, leafy plants, root plants, and fruiting plants.

Make a seed schedule

Some crops like cucumbers and beans do a lot better if you plant the seeds right into your garden.

Check your seed packets and see what the recommended soil temperature is before planting seeds for the best success.

Once nightly temps reach that temp for a few nights you are usually good, or you can use a soil thermometer to measure your soil temperature before planting.

Match your crops up to the moon calendar above for even more success!

Create a schedule to harden off transplants

Make sure you have time before your big planting day to “harden off” transplants, or get them used to the outdoor conditions. You will need about 7 days before your planting day.

Do this at least one week before you will plant them out. Bring the seedlings outside the first day for an hour or two in the shade, then bring them back inside. The next day increase the amount of time they are outdoors, introduce them to full sun for a little bit of that time.

Each day increase the length of time they are outdoors and how much full sun they get, until they are used to being outside for 8 hours in full sun.

Now they are ready to plant outside without experiencing transplant shock!

What if my transplants are getting too big?

This is a common problem! Every single year I start seeds too early. I am getting better each year, a few years ago I had a cherry tomato grow in my dining room before it was even time to plant the tomato plant outside! 😛

You may need to prune some plants back like basil, which will help them create more branches in the future. Chop the stem right above the first set of two leaves, soon it will turn into four stems!

If plants are too big for their current container, transplant them into a bigger pot with some fresh nutrient rich organic soil to help them survive until they area ready to go outside.

I had to plant my soil blocks into these larger red cups I found in my basement. Someday I might buy the next size up soil blocker.

You can use bigger pots, leftover food containers (check to make sure it’s food safe plastic), or anything you can put drainage holes in really.

Track your local micro-climate

Keep track of your last frost dates and other climate information for your garden. This way you can get to know your local micro-climate, created by the trees around your property, hills and valleys, and other natural features of your land.

You might notice you can plant earlier than your neighbors down the street because your property features make your area a few degrees warmer. Or that one of your garden beds warms up a lot faster in the spring. After you get to know your growing area for a few years you’ll begin to notice your trends.

Raised garden beds also help the soil warm up earlier so you can plant earlier!

Be ready for a freeze!

Sometimes we get a late freeze even after we think it’s safe to plant out in the Spring.

Have a plan in place to cover your plants to protect them from frost, an old bed sheet draped over support wires works fine for me. Upside down planters works well too.

Check the weather forecast each day and cover plants at night if it’s going to be too cold.

Be Patient 🙂

I say to myself lol…planting time is almost here for me!! I hope these tips help you get your seedlings through the end of spring and into their new homes in your garden soon!

Let me know tips and tricks you’d like to share below in the comments!

If you need help planning your garden, check out my blog post How to plan a pollinator friendly garden.

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