Here in Zone 5 Chicago which I think is Zone 5b the frost free date is
May 15. Last year however we had a frost on May 17 so who knows. For
sowing seeds it depends on what type of plant you're sowing. For spring
planting wildflowers I sow them around the third week of April and they
do fine. Most of my wildflowers are sown in the fall to survive the
winter and come up in the spring whenever the weather allows. Fragile
plants like tomatoes and other veggies are a different matter. I just
buy the seedlings in 4 and 6 packs and plant those after May 15. Due to
the relatively short summers here it doesn't make sense to fool around
with seeding those plants. If you insist on starting from seed you
should probably do that inside.
First, it isn't. It depends upon where you are in zone 5. I am in zone
6 and our last frost date is May 15. Some people put tomatoes and other
things that will freeze out before then, but they are prepared to cover
them and protect them from frost. If you can't protect the things you
want to plant, and they are subject to frost, you may want to buy two
packs of seed and plant one early and then plant the other after the
frost free date or buy more seed if you get hit by frost.
The plant hardiness zone map is at:
There is no last frost date. But there are dates giving certain
probability of being after the last frost. The most common one is the
one that gives 90% chance of being after the last frost. It is called
the 10% chance of last freeze date. The NOAA map for 10% chance of last
freeze date is at:
By comparing these maps, you can see that there is only a slight
correlation between them. Many crops can be put it at the 10% chance of
last frost date. Corn needs warmer soil and is planted later. Some
very tender crops are planted 2 weeks after this date to take less of a
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I am way off. I live in Maryland. According to those maps I am in zone
6b or maybe zone 7a. It is really difficult to read Maryland on those
maps. But I can be safe and call it at 6b. Thanks for the maps.
I'm in zone 5 and generally use Memorial Day weekend as a good solid
indicator of last frost. You could probably get away with mid-May, but
I think April would be pushing it. If you want to get a jump on the
season you could start your seeds indoors around the first of May.
Follow the directions on the seed packets. If they say to sow after all
danger of frost is gone then do just that.
I am in zone 5 and started my seeds last week. I have started them early
for the past
few years and find that with the strange weather we have had over that
period, it is
very hard to predict a safe time to put the plants outside. I can put my
plants into a
kind of holding pattern, if necessary. That can involve transplanting them
to larger pots, if they get too large. I also have a cold frame to delay
their planting in the ground and toughen them up for any cool nights that
may pop up. The plants do grow slower under artificial lights, so this
also gives you some flexible time.
You've gotten some good info from other so far. But, something's missing -
any mention of the things you're planting. I'm in Rochester NY, which is
zone 5-6, depending on just how far you are from Lake Ontario, and who you
believe. I'll be planting peas around end of March. It's worked for 20+
years so far because peas will put up with a lot of weather nonsense. No
will many greens, not so much because they're tough plants, but because
they're small. With a little wire fence material (bent into a u-shape over
the rows) and some heavy plastic sheets (from a paint store), you can
protect these things at night, and uncover them during the day.
Brocolli is another that can handle quite a bit of chill, along with collard
greens, cauliflower, kale. Tomatoes - no way.
If you're going to continue gardening, you owe it to yourself to get to a
book store (the kind you walk into, not the online kind), browse books for a
while, and buy one.
Right. And, observe your own property to see where you might have
"mini-climates". On the Southeast corner of my previous house, things
survived which shouldn't have because the sun heated the exposed cement
foundation and created sort of a hot bed. That's where I often planted the
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