If you’re new to planning a garden, there’s some things you should know before you get started looking for seeds online or through all the amazing catalogs that might be starting to show up in your mailbox now. It is so much fun to look through all the different varieties and species of plants, and to imagine what you could create through the life force that is carried in those tiny little seeds.
Find You Growing Zone
Where we are located in Utah is mostly zone 5b. We do have a bit of a colder micro-climate where the garden is located because of a natural dip in the Valley, so we always watch cold weather forecasts carefully just in case we’ll need to cover anything to keep it from being nipped by the frost if they’re saying it will be close to 32º F that night. If you aren’t sure what growing zone you’re in, you can easily find it online by your zip code.
Once you know your growing zone, you’ll be able to see on some catalogs which seeds that will grow well in your zone. Some catalogs don’t list these zones on their seeds because they believe that most of their items can be grown in any zone, so long as you understand your frost dates well and calculate the maturity dates that are listed on their seeds with your season length.
Understand Your Last and First Frost Dates
Along with your zone, you’ll want to know what your estimated last frost date is in the Spring, and what your estimated first frost date is in the Fall if you live in an area that experiences a cold enough winter to hinder or kill plant growth.
To find your last and first frost dates, you can use this tool from the Farmer’s Almanac. After you know those dates, you can calculate how many days your growing season is. When you choose your seeds or plants for your garden, keep that season length in mind as you look for the Days To Maturity on the seed packet info. You don’t want to nurture a slow-growing plant all season only to have it get cold in the Fall and lose it to frost – I know this bummer feeling from experience. A way to somewhat cheat that growing season length constraint is to start your seeds indoors a few weeks prior to your last frost date, then transplant them out after all danger of frost in the Spring has passed.
Start Your Seeds Indoors
I did a blog post all about some of the items you might want to invest in if you’re looking to start your seeds at home yourself this year instead of counting on the greenhouses to do them for you. The Spring of 2020 saw greenhouses and seed companies struggling to keep up with demand due to the pandemic and unprecedented amounts of people deciding to grow their own gardens, many for the first time ever. While I don’t foresee 2021 being quite as frantic, I do still think the demand on those companies will be high. If you start seeds yourself, you won’t be dependent on the greenhouses to have the plants you want when you’re ready to plant your garden, and you also won’t be bound to plant only the varieties they have started. It blows your 2021 garden possibilities out of the water!
Is there something else you’re wondering about with starting your 2021 garden? Post a comment below. I know you can do this! Whether it’s in a pot on your porch, or the planting beds behind your home that you haven’t utilized yet, just start. Start small so you don’t get overwhelmed, but just start! Happy planting!