Maxy24
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When to start cool weather veggies

I have never had much luck growing many of the cool weather crops and I think it's mainly because I don't start them early enough, I plant them outside at the same time as everything else. So I was wondering both when I should start these indoors (or if they should be put directly in the garden) and when I should plant them outside. I live in MA, zone 6a. The vegetables I'm interested in are:

Lettuce
Brussel Sprouts
Cabbage
Broccoli
Spinach

I also read on a few sites that certain herbs like cilantro and parsley prefer cool weather, is this true?


Thank you!

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Re: When to start cool weather veggies

it depends. It depends on how you fill out your signature block in the profile section. Location is everything.

If you live in the deep south you might already be too late.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: When to start cool weather veggies

But in zone 6 like me, not so much.

RE: Lettuce
Brussel Sprouts
Cabbage
Broccoli
Spinach

It's mixed. The lettuce and spinach are quick growing and I usually do just direct seed them in the ground, but as soon as the ground can be worked. For me that will be sometime in the next few weeks (not that it seems like it since it was below zero when I was going to work this AM!!). Usually by mid-March I can get seeds of the early stuff in the ground. It is important to get them going as soon as you can because the lettuce and especially the spinach tend to bolt and be done as soon as the weather warms up to the 80 degree range.

Broccoli and cabbage also much prefer cold weather, but they are much slower growing, so I do start them indoors under lights. I plant the seeds indoors mid to late January, aiming to have transplants ready to go in the ground a month earlier than my average last frost date (again about that mid-March time). So for those, yes, you are already getting a slow start and might do better to look for a good nursery (NOT big box store) that would have transplants at that time.

I haven't grown brussels sprouts, but they are slow growing and are best harvested after a bit of frost in the fall (helps them not be bitter). So I think people plant the seed more like June, for an October ish harvest.

I always do plant spring spinach, but it has a short season before it bolts. Really the best time to plant it is in late summer for a fall crop or in fall. Planted in fall, it will get started and then go dormant and sit there through hard winter. Then in late winter as soon as the cold breaks a little it will start growing again and get bigger and more productive than spring spinach ever does. The fall planted spinach and the spring planted spinach bolt about the same time, meaning the fall planted had a much longer season.
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applestar
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Re: When to start cool weather veggies

Agree -- I have my cabbages and broccoli started. I also started spinach already because I'm going to try planting started plants early this year and I've always had trouble with spotty germination and slow seedling growth with spinach so I'm trying a different technique.

I started some kale already and just started additional kale and cauliflower yesterday. Cauliflower takes as long as broccoli, but is a bit more tender so I wait another week or so to plant them out.

I can wait to lettuce because lettuce is pretty easy, but if I want to grow head lettuce, I should start them soon for a head start.

I need to do all these ahead because we have very short spring weather window -- last average frost in last week of April or first week of May with freezes into low 20's until then, but then hot hot summer like temperatures within 2-3 weeks, certainly by end of May. So if you tend to have longer, mild spring temperatures and cooler start to the summer, then you may not need to rush and the cool weather veges might be willing to grow and do well longer into the summer season.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: When to start cool weather veggies

Also re the cilantro and parsley. Both of them handle cool weather well. The cilantro doesn't like hot weather too well and tends to fade away. The parsley keeps going all season and over-winters. It is a bi-ennial, meaning it doesn't flower until the second year, then it sets seeds and is done. I like to leave some to flower, because those little nectar filled flowers are very attractive to a variety of beneficial insects and butterflies.
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pepperhead212
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Re: When to start cool weather veggies

I start all of my cold weather crops indoors in mid- March, and this year, maybe later. Peas are the traditional first planting in the ground, "as soon as the soil can be worked", and the rest a couple weeks later. And given the cold of this month, I have a feeling things may be going out later, but you never know!
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Re: When to start cool weather veggies

There are planting calendars you can use as a guideline. Planting based on average temperature may be better than by date alone. Temperature may vary quite a bit if you are by the sea or at a high altitude, even valleys have temperature gradients.

Check out the back of the seed packet that will also give you an idea of when to plant. if you start indoors you can get a jump on the season especially if you have a short one.

Lettuce and spinach are short crops so you don't need to start too early. A couple of weeks before planting out.
Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and cabbages are slow to start and they won't grow quickly in cold weather so need to be started about 4 weeks before transplanting out.



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skiingjeff
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Re: When to start cool weather veggies

We're in MA where you are in Zone 6a. Over the years we've noticed that even though we are in Zone 6, our area doesn't warm up as quickly as the lower Zone 6 states. We seem to be right on the border between Zone 6a and Zone 5. In fact we were Zone 5 until the change to the USDA Zone Chart a few years ago. :roll:

This is a long way of saying that over the last couple of years we tend to be about 1 month behind folks like Rainbow. This year will be another challenge with all the cold and snow we've gotten in MA. I'm thinking that we may miss Spring altogether.

Hope our experience helps you determine when you want to start your seeds. :)

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skiingjeff
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Re: When to start cool weather veggies

Oh I forgot to ask if you could update your profile so that all your comments and posts show your zone and location?

It will be very helpful to everyone who wants to help on the forum :)

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rainbowgardener
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Re: When to start cool weather veggies

Yes, I have no idea how the fact that it is currently MINUS 5 deg F (and last night we were down to minus 12, which is about 10 degrees lower than the record for this date here!) when we typically would at 45 deg will affect the coming of spring, when the ground becomes workable. I am only about three weeks away from when I usually would be planting things outdoors/in the ground, but it is hard to imagine.
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skiingjeff
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Re: When to start cool weather veggies

Agreed RBG, for the last few years we've not been able to "work the soil" until the end of April and many times beginning of May. Then we've gotten summer weather followed by a cold snap as late as early May so its definitely a gamble each year.

I've been following one month behind your planting schedule since I joined the forum and for the most part it works. If we were in eastern MA we might be closer in timing but the dip in the Zones puts those of us in lower Western MA on the cusp of two zones. Then, of course, as is discussed by Applestar many times, we each have our own local climate anomalies (sorry can't think of the proper word right now :oops: )

So if the OP is in eastern MA they may be closer to your and Applestar's schedules than mine :)

I guess that's what makes gardening interesting :mrgreen:

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skiingjeff
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Re: When to start cool weather veggies

Micro-climate! I knew I would think of the word I was looking for AFTER I posted.....lol :)

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Re: When to start cool weather veggies

According to NOAA 2014 turned out to be one of the warmest years on record for November and December, but the last couple of years, it seems that the cold spells have just shifted to January and February instead. It throws a lot of planting schedules off. I can sympathize that for those of you who have to worry about late freezes, it is a lot trickier. For me it just means that I have to wait a little longer to start things. Although I chanced it and did plant some pepper seeds, the ones I have plenty to spare. I am amazed that they came up, albeit they did not sprout as many as I had hoped for. This has been a relatively dry winter so I am hoping they will not dampen off. The cucumber on the other hand usually can take cold better, but my vine is a midget. It may be it doesn't like the company. I usually plant the cucumbers with onions,and basil, but I have radish, beets, and broccoli sharing the space now and they may not be the best companions.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: When to start cool weather veggies

Well, sort of. 2014 was the Earth's warmest year on record -- the average surface temperature on Earth was higher in 2014 than at any time since scientists began taking detailed measurements 135 years ago. It wasn't just the end of the year that was warm: May, June, August and September set new records for monthly highs*, and October tied a previous high. December set a new record as the warmest month ever measured. https://www.latimes.com/science/sciencen ... story.html

*Meaning the global average temperature for May was the warmest May on record, for June was the warmest June on record, etc.

AND Jan 2015 just continued the trend. Jan 2015 was the second warmest January on record:

The January 2015 globally-averaged temperature across land and ocean surfaces was 0.77°C (1.39°F) above the 20th century average of 12.0°C (53.6°F), the second highest on record for January since records began in 1880. The warmest January was in 2007, when the monthly global temperature was 0.86°C (1.55°F) above average.
https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/

So it isn't that the cold is just moved to January. And it in fact in Feb has been record settingly cold where I am, but our corner of the US is one of the few places on the planet that is cold.

Image
https://i1.wp.com/www.stirimeteo.com/wp- ... T2_T26.png

This happens to be Feb 8, but it is representative.
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Maxy24
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Re: When to start cool weather veggies

Thanks for the help everyone! I usually plant my stuff in the garden around Mother's Day, so around May 10th. So I'll plan to put out the cold weather stuff a month earlier around April 10th if that's doable. I'll get the broccoli and cabbage planted soon, so exciting!

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