when to start cool weather crops

dancetrancerDecember 31, 2012

Hello all!

I am located in Birmingham and have done container gardening for 2 years now. I have always started in April planting my summer crops, and did a few fall crops, as well, but I would like to get a jump start this year for some spring crops (ie. things that will die off in the heat of the summer, but I could harvest in late spring/early summer).

I've been trying to figure out when to start my spring crops. Most say to start after the first frost or just before, but that seems too late to me. In fact, I saw one place that said you could start some crops in January...? And one for February, too. I'm a newbie at gardening, really, so I'm hoping you all could give me an idea of when to start. I will be doing seeds for all of them. I can start indoors if need be, although sowing directly outside in my planters would be great, if possible. Would the ground be less or more frozen in planters? Here is what I'd like to start:

Green Leaf Lettuce (black seeded simpson)
Spinach
Bok Choy
Sugar Snap Peas
Kale

Also, I haven't picked varieties for anything except the green leaf lettuce, so if you all know of varieties that do well in our climate I would love to hear suggestions!

Thanks so much!

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alabamanicole(7b)

The most reliable method is to go by soil temperature, because when to plant varies so much from place to place -- and with containers, the size and location of the containers is going affect the soil temperature quite a bit.

I typically direct seed spring crops mid-Feb. when the soil gets about 60F.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vegetable seed germination charts

    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 3:52PM
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plantman71(7b/8a)

I live in Birmingham also. I start my cold weather crops in Feb., except Kale and collards which I plant any time in the cold weather. I have had Kale and Collards all winter so for. Have a new bed of Kale up and ready to be thined now. hope this helps. Tony

    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 8:24PM
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topsiebeezelbub(z7 Al)

I have had cabbages, kale, collards and radiccio all winter, uncovered, and mixed lettuce, chard, and spinach under a frost blanket. The spinach is starting to go to seed. I planted them about October, but you can plant the kale and collards now. They will grow slowly until it warms up, then take off. Kale is biennial so you can keep it through summer. Check with your nursery what date to plant snow and English peas...its pretty quick. This is my first year doing a winter garden and I love it! No going out to water, and virtually no bugs. Also have sorrel, parsley, mustard and rosemary. Thyme,sage and oregano are alive, but look ratty. If you are doing just ornamentals a good nursery should have early flowers like poppy,snaps, dianthus,wallflower,bellis,diacia, arctotis, etc.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 8:01PM
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