Saturday, January 16, 2010

Homesteady Weekend - Garden Planning, Cheese

Blog reader Karen Sue sent me this link the other day when I mentioned starting seeds:

She's right - it IS exactly what I need.  I printed it out have it collected together with all my seed packets and am looking forward to an exercise of planning when to start what seeds, where (oh yes, I've got the where figured out already, yay!).

The first task is to find out my last frost date.  Albany, NY is my nearest large city but the weather here is consistently 10 degrees cooler than there (and I'm 1800 feet higher).  So I found a weather station at a state park that generally has similar weather to mine (Grafton Lakes).

For example, here are the Albany last and first frost dates:
Last Frost 90% April 9, 50% May 2, 10% May 15  First Frost 10% Sept 23, 50% Oct 3, 90% Oct 13

Here are the Grafton last and first frost dates:
Last Frost 90% Apr 22, 50% May 8, 10% May 24  First Frost 10% Sept 16, 50% Oct 2, 90% Oct 17

If I use the 50% (I have no idea - all you experts out there, is that the date I should be using?), there's about a week delay to plant here.  Neighborly chitchat last year taught me that people on my street generally plan to plant around Memorial Day weekend.  (What a difference from South Carolina when the planting is around Good Friday - an entirely different holiday!)

Some cheese is gelling while I write this.  Instead of making mozzarella again, I'm trying something that takes more time (perfect for the weekend).  I need to do some research and buy more stuff.  My starter kits don't take me far.  I'll pretty much have to wait to try goat cheese until after people start milking their goats (which would be after birthing, in a few months). 

It looks like I'll be taking a trip into central Massachusetts today to pick something up.  If all works as planned, my sleeping arrangements soon won't look so weird, while still allowing me to sleep near the woodstove.  I'm going to be getting a daybed that trundles into a full bed and giving away the mattresses and this sofa on craigslist (yes, Chicken Mama, the twin to your sofa!).  Plus, if it looks as good as the pictures, it's really stylish and worth the trek.  I'll see soon enough, and so shall you!


  1. Having those first and last frost dates from Grafton is good info but I'd go by what the locals say . . . that they don't plant until Memorial Day. Even though a last frost date may be on such and such a date, the ground needs to warm up a bit after that time so the seeds don't get chilblains and die.

    When we first moved up here from Illinois (drastically different gardening climate!) an old timer and great gardener told us he never put anything in his garden until Memorial Day Weekend and waited until the second week in June to set out plants. Took me a couple of years to believe him, but he was so right.

    I have evolved to using cold frames in the early spring/summer so I can get by pushing the start of my garden . . . but I sometimes wonder if I end up ahead or if the plants are stressed more than they would be if I just waited until the weather was truly warm enough.

    But that's gardening for ya! And then, of course, there are always the changing weather cycles. What works one year, won't necessarily work the next. Isn't it fun?

  2. Generally speaking Jordan, in my city in NY we don't use the frost dates you found. We use Memorial Day for tomatoes, though I know some people who try to put things out two weeks earlier.

    In VT, which is colder, as you found, I actually tried to put things out earlier than I ever did in NY. Why? Because the end of the season comes a month earlier.

    Planting in the mountains is interesting. This year I am looking at multiple plantings of some things, like peas and spinach, which I would not do in the city because it gets more humid in the summer.

  3. I would go for Memorial Day. Also, have some sort of row/plant-cover ready to go in case of an unseasonable late frost! We had one of those here in CT last summer, and if I'd planted when I'd originally intended I would've been completely unprepared!

  4. Jordan-
    SO glad you were able to get that printed out!. I printed one each for my friend and I yesterday. We had talked earlier in the week about seeds and I figured I'd just print it. Because our season is shorter, there are things I accept that I just can't plant. If I don't have enough days, I pass it by. You can probably experiment with some, but for the most part, it's not worth all the work to not see them finish. And actually, with all the rain and cooler weather last year, it was a stretch for some of the things anyway.
    Good luck and you'll have fun with that seed starter!!