This post will explain when to plant seeds indoors or outdoors in garden zone 6. If you do not know your garden zone, you can find it by visiting the USDA plant hardiness page. A general rule of thumb for garden zone 6 is that the last frost occurs around May 1st and the first frost happens around November 1st. My experience has taught me that these guidelines are usually off by a few weeks, so my advice is to watch the weather closely.
I believe that there are two types of learning: listening to the "experts," which includes textbooks and 'professional' websites; or learning from first-hand experiences of those who have a little more practice. Personally, I do a combination of both. My advice to you is to follow your instincts and make judgments based on the knowledge you have available. Gardening mistakes happen, and you will learn so much as you persevere!
how do I know WHEN to plant my garden?
- Have you identified your garden zone by visiting the USDA map?
- Do you know your garden zone's typical last frost date?
- Have you made a list of what flowers, fruits and vegetables you would like to grow?
If you answered yes to these questions, let's get started creating your garden plan! I created a free garden guide resource that includes a plant hardiness calendar, garden grid and note section. If you would like to get yours, just fill out the form at the bottom of this post. I have found that taking good notes and pictures has helped to improve my gardening skill set.
I organize my seeds by variety and plan my garden based on when to plant. Each seed packet will have instructions that tell about what conditions the plant needs to thrive: full sun, partial sun or shade; when to plant and any other detail that could be helpful. I have found that extending my garden season by starting seedlings indoors helps me to work within the limits my garden zone while maximizing production.
how long do seeds last in storage?
Seeds can last for several years if stored properly, which helps to offset some of the initial expense of gardening. I have found that most seeds will have good germination (grow into healthy plants) for about two years, then it slowly begins to taper off. I also save seeds garden vegetables and add them to my collection in labeled coin envelopes. If you are incredibly thrifty, it is possible to save seeds from last year's crop for the following year!
I'm sharing an Instagram reel of my seed storage if you need some inspiration! This is a photography organizer that I repurposed. A similar one can be found at Michaels or on Amazon. I use larger plastic shoe organizers to store sunflower seeds and zinnia seeds. A little tip, make sure they are dry before putting the lid on! If there is moisture, the seeds will mold.
When planning a garden location, the most important factor is sun exposure. Most garden plants will require at least six hours of bright sunlight to produce vegetables or fruit. When we were building our garden, we had three main obstacles: our dogs digging, deer and other wildlife eating plants and we are surrounded by agricultural fields. In an effort to offset the damage from our dogs and the local wildlife, we had to but a fence around our garden. We haven't found a good solution to keep our garden free from the damage of chemical drift, but we do try to run sprinklers if we know the farmer is spraying near by.
We tried to think of every problem that could possible arise and create a solution for it before we ever broke ground on our garden. Thoughtful planning will spare you hours of extra manual labor!
our garden layout
Our main garden consists of six garden beds that measure eight by four feet each. One of our favorite features is the stock tank swimming pool in the middle of our garden. Our chicken coop is positioned at the back of the garden and a small tunnel run gives the chickens access to the perimeter. They love to follow me around when I am working. I think it is so funny to watch them attack grasshoppers that try to sneak past! Our garden is surrounded by a fence made from livestock panels and pressure treated pine. It was inexpensive and has been a lifesaver for keeping the deer out.
We have about two weeks to go until I will transplant my seedlings outdoors. Here in Kansas, I've learned that spring always likes to throw a frosty curve ball right when gardeners are starting to plant. My rule of thumb is to keep everything under the grow lights or under a temporary greenhouse tunnel until May 1st. Just a word of caution, last year we had a bad freeze on May 8th... so you've been warned! It can be difficult to determine when to plant seeds in garden zone 6, but follow your instincts as well as the forecast and you'll be fine.
how I prepare our garden for a spring frost
It isn't pretty yet, but let me take you on a little garden tour and show you what our plans are for the upcoming season!
I hope this has been helpful! Here are links to a few of my other gardening posts that show more details of our setup.