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Better Late than Never

May 19th, 2011

This year spring has been lagging a bit and so have I when it comes to getting all my warm season crops started. According to my seed starting calculator I should have started my zucchini, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, basil, zinnias, and all kinds of other things about a month ago. And yet my seed starting trays sit empty, my soil blocker lays dormant, and the seeds are still nestled in their packets on the dresser in my dining room table. Why? I’ve been busy, busy, busy.

Sometimes life allows you to start seeds exactly 4 weeks before frost sometimes it doesn’t. A gardener can decide that time spent improving the soil is better than seeding plants. The weather can change your plans as well. Rain will fall just often enough so that the soil never dries enough to start planting when you should. And sometimes gardeners plan to go on vacation right when they shouldn’t, in the middle of summer. Now they must adjust projected harvests around their plans.

Plants are forgiving though, they don’t get impatient. They’ll grow like gangbusters if given the right conditions and will produce beautifully even if you get them planted a few weeks late. Sometimes I think starting things in pots in the house sets them back (I haven’t done any testing but I’d love to some day when I have the time). This year I’ll be direct seeding most of my squash simple because I didn’t have time to plant them indoors a few weeks ago. The corn will go in a little late so it’s not ripe while we’re on vacation. I don’t think they’ll mind at all, and maybe they’ll be better off because of it – we shall see!

How’s your garden going so far this year? Are you getting everything in on time?

29 Comments to “Better Late than Never”
  1. Lillian on May 19, 2011 at 7:12 am

    Right there with you! It’s been so rainy the past 2 weeks when I’ve had time to do planting that I still have a lot of seeds to get into the soil. It’s supposed to be sunny thisweekend, so I’m crossing my fingers for a good day of warm sunshine to dry it out a bit before I get the rest of everything planted. We’re doing corn, too, and it’s the first time – I can’t wait!!

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  2. Melissa on May 19, 2011 at 7:46 am

    So far everything has gone in on time except my winter squash- still need to get those seeds ordered. We had a very early spring here down south. So much better than last year b/c everything was a full 2 months later than it should have been!

    Reply to Melissa's comment

  3. Andrés on May 19, 2011 at 8:02 am

    A similar thing happened over at our place, partially was that I was given the gift of a raised bed from a friend who had extra wood, and so I decided to go ahead and make myself another one I had been playing with adding as well, so now have space that I didn’t originally think I would have back when I was starting seeds. There are plants I want to grow now, but was afraid that it was too late, but seeing your post has encouraged me to go ahead and try. And it may work out for the best as we too are going on vacation during high harvest time, so this may delay the harvest just perfectly (hadn’t thought about that aspect).

    Reply to Andrés's comment

  4. Daedre Craig on May 19, 2011 at 8:21 am

    I think that timing is going to be off for anyone in the midwest this year. In my part of michigan, our temperature accumulation for the year is about 3 weeks behind. I’m sure it’s similar where you are. Appropriate planting times may be a bit delayed this year anyway, so starting your seeds late may not matter!

    I just ordered a huge pile of compost, and I haven’t been able to touch it yet because it has been rainy daily, for like a week!

    Reply to Daedre Craig's comment

  5. Mary W on May 19, 2011 at 8:42 am

    I’m hoping for sunshine over the Memorial Day weekend. I can’t remember such a cool, rainy May. Everything is going in late or starting slowly, but I know it’ll all catch up. It just makes me a little jittery to have to wait so long.

    Reply to Mary W's comment

  6. kristin @ going country on May 19, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Too much rain. The potatoes aren’t even in yet. Sad.

    I have never started squash indoors. I always direct-sow and I always have PLENTY of squash. As much as I can use, anyway.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  7. Jaspenelle on May 19, 2011 at 9:19 am

    It has been so very cold here this Spring (latest year for us to reach 70F ever) so everything feels a little behind. Our local apple trees normally bloom on mother’s day and they have only now just started getting little buds.

    I have my potatoes in the ground (in my three year old’s garden, he couldn’t wait to plant and I have row cover…) as well as his radishes. We only planted our peas a little over a week ago. I think my saving grace this Spring has been the garlic I planted last fall, at least it looks like something is growing.

    The lack of planting energy has given we the boost I need to finally over haul the area around my raised beds through with fresh wood chips and really tidy up my perennial herb and raspberry garden.

    Reply to Jaspenelle's comment

  8. Kelly on May 19, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Good grief no! I’m so far behind it’s laughable (we’re fixing up to move in a month, so I have good reason). I started tomatoes back before we’d planned on the move, so I’ve loads of seedlings (mostly alive) that deeply need to get out into the garden but we’ve had a cold wet spring and now, when it’s finally warm enough, it’s been raining the past 2wks and due to rain the next 2 as well! I’m getting a bit concerned, to say the least.

    Reply to Kelly's comment

  9. Donna B. on May 19, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Hehe! I believe everyone’s experiencing the same thing…
    But yeah, after an entire week of non-stop soft-to-hard falling rain, I’m itching to get back into the garden! [I can’t keep digging new beds and waiting for a dry day.] Sadly, all of my poor plants are sitting on the porch awaiting their time to shine in the garden… Tomato’s are reaching for the sun, and the various squash are all trying to FLOWER already!!! [I’ve pinched back about five to six fruits per plant, it weirds me out to have to do that!] But I know I will have plenty in a month or so, so I’m not too sad.

    But I also have tried something new: I let the cherry tomatoes self seed! I have lots of baby plants that I’ll move on a clear overcast non-wet day to their proper bed. It’s hardening off as it’s easiest!

    Have you ever staggered your squash [zuccini, winter squash] plantings? That way, when a plant becomes overrun with borers, you have more to back them up? I want to try that this year…

    Reply to Donna B.'s comment

  10. Morgan G on May 19, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Yes! Just in the nick of time, but that counts, too, right?

    Reply to Morgan G's comment

  11. Dana on May 19, 2011 at 10:37 am

    As a first-time gardener, I got impatient and started things way too early. But it seems to be working out for me. I used some seeds from Renee’s Garden as well and they’ve worked out fabulously! I think I’ll stick with them for the most part.

    Reply to Dana's comment

  12. Lynda on May 19, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I’m almost six weeks behind. The weather here in California has been totally crazy. Yesterday a.m. in the 40’s and raining. Today in the 80’s and sun but cold and wet this weekend…I’m having to re-plan the garden hour by hour.

    Reply to Lynda's comment

  13. Mich on May 19, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I am behind in the garden but here (nr Oxford UK) the weather has been dry, dry, dry! The garden and farm are desperate for some rain…my spuds are up but the carrots & beetroot are just sitting there. :(
    I have put in squash, corn, beans all in modules so hopefully they will romp away when I get them in the ground.
    Can remember such a dry spring….but bonus is havent got wet riding the horse :)

    Reply to Mich's comment

  14. risa b on May 19, 2011 at 11:39 am

    We’re slow too. There has been lots and lots of rain. I have lost two entire crops of peas. And our little greenhouse hasn’t done much for us this year either. Fortunately a friend has started a “starts” business and we are getting things going — better than last year at any rate — which was our worst in 35 years of gardening!

    Reply to risa b's comment

  15. Joshua on May 19, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Easter Tennessee here. Just last weekend, I finally got the last of my stuff transplanted. I was holding off on the tomatoes, onions, carrots (yes, I transplant carrots), and peppers, because I started them in flats and so they were already growing. I put my energy into the stuff that needed to be direct-sown. I’m a little bit behind because I prefer to get everything in by the beginning of May, but it’s more about my work-load than the weather. I spent three weeks building a fence for my property so my sheep wouldn’t escape (again), and it took almost all my free time.

    Reply to Joshua's comment

  16. ami on May 19, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    We are at least 3 weeks behind here too (it’s been the coldest, most wet spring since 1916). I got some cool weather things planted in March before I realized it was going to be cool and wet and found out that even though they sprouted they didn’t grow so it didn’t matter that I was on time. Everything else is going in as the weather dictates now. We’ve been predicted a hot, dry summer so a late start should be okay.

    Reply to ami's comment

  17. itchbay on May 19, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Not so much. I got my peas in late in March, and (surprise!) didn’t get much of a crop. Now it’s May and I just seeded my zucchinis. I still need to get the beans and corn out. And although the tomato plants have been transplanted to the garden, they’re not on the trellis yet.

    Busy is good. Balance is better. :)

    Reply to itchbay's comment

  18. Marcia on May 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    We had snow here till not that long ago. I planted my garlic two weeks ago and I should be able to put in the rest of the garden this weekend, if the rain waits till Sunday. I’m just going to plant everything at once and sow thickly to make up for any seeds rotting etc. We are also set to move in the next month or two so I’m only gonna do this once! Que sera, sera!

    Reply to Marcia's comment

  19. MAYBELLINE on May 19, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    So far – so good.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  20. Seren Dippity on May 19, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    I am being pouty about my squash. I’m bitter. I have lost all my squash crops two years in a row to the squash vine borer, so this year I’m pretending I don’t care. I direct seeded a couple of pumpkins and a couple of zukes. We’ll see.
    As for scheduling… this year I’m being a lot more laid back. Last year I followed the “suggested” planting schedule to the day. One thing i found was that my pepper plants pretty much sat there and meditated until about the first of July at which point they went gang busters. Why rush to plant them in April? This year they are sitting in starter pots inside and will go in the beds I harvest my garlic from about the first of June. Much easier than stressing to find space for them earlier.

    So, yeah a more laid back attitude is a good idea.

    Reply to Seren Dippity's comment

    • Susy on May 19, 2011 at 9:09 pm

      I’m always telling myself “It isn’t a race”. I tell myself this when I feel like I’m behind, or when I think I need to tackle more garden tasks each year. I have to remember than I’m not growing food for survival and I don’t need to have my entire garden done in a few years.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  21. KimH on May 19, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    The only thing Im really behind in is transplanting lettuce & leeks & bunching onions into their final beds.. They’re outside and doing fairly well as are the tomatoes & peppers. The leeks did get a bit water logged though.. this is true.
    I always direct seed everything else. I’ve been wanting to plant all my various squashes but its been too wet. Im hoping either tomorrow or the weekend will work for me. If not, many were the years that we couldnt get into the community garden I used to garden in until Memorial Weekend, so Im still doing ok..

    Reply to KimH's comment

  22. Jennifer Fisk on May 19, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    I feel like I am way behind but traditionally Memorial Day weekend is the normal garden planting time in Maine. I think the winter of multi feet of snow has made all of us impatient to get things growing.
    I tilled enough of my garden today to plant my broccoli seedlings, some kale and lettuce seedlings. With all the rain we’ve had, the soil was one step better than mud. I also planted 5 tomato plants.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  23. Kelly (The Sorry Gardener) on May 19, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Despite the Seattle rain and gloom, I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping things on schedule this year. I even have green beans up.

    Also, thanks for turning me on to Renee’s seeds. I was never able to find (locally) the Catalina spinach you recommended, but I’ve tried several other veggies and have been very pleased with how they’ve germinated.

    Also, given my small garden, I like the combo seed packs (like the tri-color zucchini) so I can grow multiple varieties without buying quite so much seed. And it’s just plain cool that the seeds are color coded. Good luck with your zuccs.

    Reply to Kelly (The Sorry Gardener)'s comment

  24. Cherise on May 19, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    For years I beat myself up because I could never get my seeds in the garden as early as my grandfather. Of course, I didn’t really take into account that I had small children and a life filled with all things work, school and family. The last two years I’ve carefully planned my garden during the winter and my Spring planting schedule has fallen right in line. I may not get them in at the earliest time but I’ve found when I’ve planned well there is little thought in the garden and it doesn’t take nearly as much time to sew a couple seeds each day. Trying to plant around all the rain this year has been a little challenging but the seeds germinate faster when the soil is warmer anyway so they’ll catch up.

    Reply to Cherise's comment

  25. goatpod2 on May 19, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Ours is doing okay but my Dad still has some things left to plant though.


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  26. Stephanie on May 20, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    It’s the same here, I should have started my pumpkin, zucchini, tomatoes and such weeks ago. I did get the radishes, peas, and lettuce in at least. We do what we can, and you’re right, better late than never! :)

    Reply to Stephanie's comment

  27. Kayla on May 20, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    Thank you for this post! It’s a relief to know I’m not the only one behind on her gardening. The funny thing is last year I had everything planned out; when I would have started my zucchini, winter squashes, tomatoes and cucumber etc. weeks ago, and still didn’t start on time, but I guess that’s how life works :-).

    Reply to Kayla's comment

  28. Marie on May 24, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Rain, rain, rain :-) And this year, I was going to try some cool season crops (peas, broccoli, spinach) for the first time, but everything’s been way to wet.

    I keep reminding myself – last year was the first time I gardened, and in a brand new community garden. Things were late due to the construction, so the grand opening wasn’t until around mid to late May. (And it was still very wet.) So most of my plants went in June anyway. And they did fine.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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