Saturday, May 14, 2022

Planting cadence

Deadon Savoy Cabbage. Target planting date (at my latitude) of May 15


My dad was a teacher. The end of the school year was chaotic. I really cannot remember him getting in a garden before June 10th.

He picked up flats of Rutgers or Bonnie Best tomatoes. The places selling tomato plants never ran out of those two varieties.

He planted Red Pontiac potatoes on 36" by 36" centers so he could roto-till in both directions.

Sweetcorn was Iochief hybrid and went into the garden on that first Saturday after the first full week in June. Squash was planted at the same time.

Raspberry plants were given to him by a co-worker near the end-of-June. He brought them home in a bucket. They were probably a now-obsolete variety named "Latham" but they made incredible freezer-jam. You have not lived until you have eaten raspberry freezer-jam made from fragrant raspberries picked at peak ripeness.

Roses and other plants were purchased clearance. They were beat-up and he probably paid ten-cents-on-the-dollar. Not all of them lived.

We always had more vegetables than we could eat or can or freeze. Even with the sub-optimal planting cadence. Of course, Dad was fanatical about weeding. I am not so good at keeping my garden weeded.

The point is that my enforced vacation from gardening will likely not be catastrophic. A critical look at garden plants reveals that the only class of plant that is hyper-sensitive to planting date are brassicas and root crops that might have critical physiological events like head-formation or bulbing keyed into day-length. Most of these plants are technically biennials which nominally start growth one growing season and complete their life-cycle the next season.

Kale. As bullet-proof of a crop as exists.

It is a balancing act because planting later might be favorable for reduced likelihood of the plants going to seed instead of storing food for the next season but it also slows growth as the days shorten and temperatures cool. This is where gardening becomes an art. Deadon or winter storage cabbages might want to have their seeds started on May 15 at my location while other types of cabbage, say Hwi Mo Ri Chinese Cabbage might want to be seeded between July 10 and July 20.

In a normal year, at my location:

  • Flights of onion sets starting April 15
  • Sugar Snap peas, three flights starting last week of April
  • Potatoes, in the ground May 1, target soil temp 50F
  • Field/cornmeal corn target May 15*
  • Tomato and pepper plants May 27 (look at weather predictions for frost)
  • Beans and sweet corn starting June 1
  • Melons, squash June 7
  • Root vegetables, kale seeds in ground July 4 weekend


*Commercial farmers start planting when the soil is above 45F. For the most part, the seeds sit there waiting for the soil to warm up. They are protected from rot and insects with fungicides and insecticides.

Corn is a warm season plant and the weeds quickly outpace it in the spring. Herbicides are used to kill the weeds.

The need for chemical interventions drops a bunch if the gardener plants when corn wants to be planted. The reason commercial farmers do not do it that way is because they have enormous acreage (often times geographically spanning multiple states) and they have to start early to get it all in. The economies-of-scale that make modern, BIG commercial farming possible are totally dependent on successful chemical interventions that allow them to plant three weeks before that kernel of corn wants to sprout.

A 40 acre field can be planted in 4-1/2 hours by a 5 row planter (36" wide rows) running 5 miles per hour or 7-1/2 hours at 3 mph.


  1. ope will go through other attempts failed
    goat milk for babies tinned or in cooler or high end pet store in cooler for kittens have seen it as dried milk, i think
    in 40's cow milk with karo syrup was used

  2. Just curious, why do plant kale seeds so late?

    1. Broadcast through squash and melon to multi-crop. Planting too soon shades melons

  3. Yep, home vs. commercial is a MAJOR difference in planting schedules... sigh