Transplanting Seedlings? Read This First!

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Are you thinking about planting a garden?  Because I'm sure thinking about planting a garden!  And one question I get all the time is. . .when is it ok to transplant seedlings outdoors? 

The answer (as one of my Master Gardener instructors was fond of saying) is "it depends."

It depends on what you want to plant, and it also depends on how much of a risk you like to take.  What I mean is that if you are planting a cool season crop (like carrots, lettuce, and kale), then what are you waiting for?  Go out and plant!  These crops love cool weather!

But if you want to plant, say, tomatoes, or peppers, or basil, or anything that prefers warmer temperatures, then you need to consider the last frost date.  Around here, that's right around the beginning of May.  

Now this is where the risk comes in.  May 1st is an average last frost date, which means that there are years when frost occurs after that day.  So, if you decide to plant, you are betting on no more frost (which will kill your seedlings).

I personally am not a big risk taker, so I tend to wait for the middle to end of May before I plant my vegetable garden. My growing season is slightly shorter, but it is extremely unlikely that frost will be an issue for me.  I think it's worth the trade off!

Now, a little disclaimer: I'm in hardiness zone 6, and if you are too, great! Your last frost date is probably pretty close to the beginning of May.  If you're not in zone 6 (you can check your zone here), you'll need to look up the last frost date for your own area.

Hope you have a great gardening season! 

Linda KelsoComment