My order from Baker Creek Seeds arrived a week or so ago. I set the seeds aside for now, but could not stop fiddling with a new gadget that I ordered. It’s called “Clyde’s Garden Planner,” and is basically a simplified slide rule for seed starting times. (For those of you too young to know what a slide rule is, check here. I never used one in school, but my father, a former chemist, was a whiz with a slide rule when I was a kid.)
Clyde’s guide works like this. You slide the ruler over to the average last frost date in your area. In the case of Rice County, that would be about May 15. Then, you look back on the chart to figure the date for planting each crop in the vegetable garden as well as starting seeds indoors. So, according to Clyde, I can plant spinach and peas around April 5, radishes around April 12, and potatoes and beets around April 19. But I should not start my tomatoes inside until April 12. The times for outdoor planting seem a little early, and are earlier than the U of M extension service recommends for some crops, though not all. However, my experience with cool season crops is that I plant them too late and they bolt, given that spring lasts about two weeks around here before going to hot and humid.
A lady I know–a scientist by trade and a wonderful gardener–uses nature signs to decide when to plant her peas, greens, and other cool season crops. This involves things like watching for bud break and listening for the early frogs, which we have plenty of near our yard. I may use a combination of both this year. Between the frogs and Clyde, maybe I’ll get it right.