From the soft comfort of a fireside rocking chair, your garden holds endless possibilities. You can picture--taste, even--the sweet tang of your certain bushels of tomatoes, the crisp crunch of cucumbers, the melting delicateness of a pile of stir-fried snow peas. All of this dreaming is essential--and at least partly true--but luckily January moves along, and wispy garden dreams must solidify into concrete garden plans if you hope to bring your visions to fruition, so to speak.
There are many garden plans to be made--questions of fencing, fertility, and size, among countless others--but one of the most vital is planning your schedule for starting seeds.
The key information to establishing your plan is your last spring frost date. This date is the average last day that gardeners can expect a frost to visit their garden. Here in the Mid-Hudson Valley, this date is about May 10th. However, this date differs significantly throughout the state (see this link from Cornell for an enlightening map), and it is also often refuted by actual fact: in 2012, for example, much of the Hudson Valley experienced a late May frost strong enough to damage frost-tender crops significantly. Still, we need a starting point, and the last frost date is it. This link provides extremely thorough frost and freeze data from throughout the country.
Below is a rough schedule of spring seed-starting opportunities in our region. For gardeners in the NYC metro area, you can start seeds about two or three weeks earlier than listed; for gardeners north and west of the Hudson Valley, you can start seeds about one week later than listed. Live elsewhere? Modify the chart by using your the last frost date and the information in the “Time to Frost Date” column.
"Under Protection" means in a cold frame, greenhouse, or indoors with supplemental lighting.