I think I finally cleared up my confusion regarding planting around frost dates. Gardening books and seed packets always mention frost dates and their importance, but I never completely understood what they meant. A handy link from the Seed Savers website gave me some assistance today. Follow the same link to find the first and last frost dates for your area, searchable by zip code. Then check the Seed Savers website to find out when to plant your fall crops for this coming season.
For my area, the first frost date is December 21-31 and the last frost date is January 21-31, which means I need to get moving on my brussel sprout and leek seeds. According to the frost dates for my area, I need to have the transplants settled in the garden by the middle of August, which is quickly approaching. Direct sown carrots and onions can wait until September and the beets and swiss chard need to be in the ground by October.
I’m trying to break up the garden work into more manageable bits so that I can proceed with a plan but still have some wiggle room. I make a lot of mistakes out in my yard, and I often have no idea what I’m doing, but somehow things usually work out. (Remembering to water has been the real game changer!) I’m no longer willing to waste money on plants that don’t work for my climate, or were placed in the wrong area of the garden, or weren’t good quality to begin with. I need to be more discriminating, which means sometimes planting only two new plants, even when a big part of me wants to go ahead and plant ten. I need to be realistic about how much time I actually have to care for the garden. I’d rather have five vegetables that are thriving than a yard full of neglected orphan plants.