Last year, I asked several of my gardening friends to share their planting calendars with me so that I could write a column about planting dates for vegetables here on Lopez Island (hardiness zone 7B). They responded enthusiastically with information enough to fill two columns, one focusing on January through March and a second focusing on April through September. I’ve posted both columns in the Green Living Columns section of this blog: http://lopezislandkitchengardens.wordpress.com/the-new-planting-year-begins/ and http://lopezislandkitchengardens.wordpress.com/the-new-planting-year-continues/.
Like the planting calendars my friends shared with me, my planting calendar is a product of record keeping. As each new planting year begins, I look back at when I’ve planted in past years. Each year is a little different, influenced by the weather pattern that year but also by travel plans. There’s a pretty big window for planting many of the vegetables I like and looking back on planting records, I see that I’ve taken advantage of those windows. A reassuring guide to planting times is this chart on West Coast Seeds website: http://www.westcoastseeds.com/admin/files/2011PlantingChart.pdf
Last year and the year before, I planted seeds of onions, shallots, sugar snap peas, lettuce, radicchio, fennel, broccoli, and cauliflower indoors in flats in mid-February. This year I’m delaying any planting until the end of February because I’m traveling a lot this month. Happily, I can look farther back in my planting records and see that there were years when I planted these crops as late as early March and still had a good growing season.
A week from today I’ll be home for a long stretch and can plant in flats indoors my list of cool weather crops as well as tomatoes. And with the extra day of this leap year, I’ll be able to record February 29th as the first planting date for 2012!