When To Start Your Spring Garden

Here in East Tennessee you can start your Spring Garden in February.  Well, not actually gardening, but starting the process.  February 6th through February 20th is the recommended time to sow seeds indoors for a number of cool hardy plants.  Broccoli, Collard Greens, Egg Plants, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mustard, Peppers, Cauliflower, Spinach and Tomatoes can all be started indoors in February.

When considering transplanting seedlings into the garden you have to use some common sense and pay close attention to the weather forecast. The rule of thumb for East Tennessee is that the average frost-free growing season starts April 16th.  Many years this is right, however not every year. It is much better to plant later than earlier. We all know how anxious gardeners are to get started.  A little patience will pay off.  If you let the soil begin to warm up before you plant, your plants will grow faster and fuller. Be sure to not cut any of your outdoor lighting wires underneath the soil if you have any as you plant.

Hardening Off

Now that those little babies of yours have been given tender loving care, they are ready for transplanting.

Should You take them out and plant them in the garden as soon as you are sure that the last frost has passed you by?

No. If you throw them out into a completely different environment from what they have been used to, it could shock them. Possibly even to the point that it could kill them. Instead you should use the process called “Hardening Off”. This is the process of acclimating the plants to their new environment. You should take them outside on a warm Spring day and leave them there for a couple of hours the first day. The next day leave them out there for a few more hours, bringing them in each evening.  After a week or so they will be acclimated and ready to transplant.

Transplanting Dates

So when should you begin the transplant process? According to the National Growing Association and their Gardening Planting Calendar for Knoxville, TN, It is different dates for different plants. You can go to their web site and find both Spring and Fall planting times.  Here are a few that you might be most interested in.

  • March 2 – March 17     Asparagus
  • March 5 – April 2         Lettuce
  • March 19 – April 2       Cauliflower, Collards, Kale, Kohlrabi, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Mustard, Spinach
  • April 16 – April 30        Peppers, Tomatoes,
  • April 16 – May 7           Sweet Potatoes

Check this blog out on how to start seeds indoors!