West Life: Only a few weeks away from starting seeds

Tomato seeds take longer to start than many other vegetables. The CSU Cooperative Extenstion suggests you start seeds indoors 5-7 weeks prior to the last frost date.

My green thumb is getting so itchy that I’m about to go out and buy a Chia pet, just to see something fresh and spring-like in my house.

Some of my friends have already planted seeds in little trays, they’re so starved for gardening.

Should you start your seeds yet? It depends on what you’re growing and where you live.

The first step in determining when to start seeds is finding out the average last frost date for your area.

This is important because you wouldn’t want to transplant a fragile seedling outside until the danger of frost has passed.

These dates are averages, so some years may have a last frost date earlier or later than these dates. If you live in Grand Junction, the last average 32-degree frost date is around May 3. If you live in the Fruita area, it’s colder, and your average frost date is a week later, around May 10. The warm winds at the east end of the valley give Palisade a head start, and that area’s last frost date is around April 21.

All of this climate data is available through the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Service office.

Now that you know when the average last frost date is for your part of the valley, let’s look at what you want to plant.

Tomatoes take longer to start than many other vegetables. According to the CSU Cooperative Extension, you will need 5–7 weeks prior to the last frost date to start tomatoes indoors.

If you live in the Palisade area, you have roughly nine weeks until the average last frost date. Poor Fruitians have more than 11 weeks.

But can’t you just start the seeds early, and they’ll be more prepared when you transplant them into your garden?

Nope, according to the Extension Service’s “Vegetable Transplant Timetable” publication written by Curtis Swift.

“Transplants older than recommended suffer more shock when transplanted to the garden and often produce less of a crop over the course of the growing season than transplants of the proper size and age,” he says.

So, don’t think you’re getting a head start by not holding your horses.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll continue to drool over my seed catalogs, and I might just buy that Chia pet.

For vegetable seedling information, call the CSU Cooperative Extension Service office at 244-1834 and ask them to send you the “vegetable info gardening packet” with information on starting seeds, or search the service’s fact sheets at http://www.extension.colostate.edu/TRA.

Erin McIntyre is a writer, gardener and Grand Valley native in the midst of starting her own gourmet pickle company. You can reach her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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