Zone 5 question

If the last frost date for zone 5 is April 30, can I SAFELY sow seeds two weeks prior to April 30? Or is there some reason that I don't realize why I need to wait till April 30?
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In article snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com says...

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.
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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:
http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/ushzmap.html
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:
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/documentlibrary/freezefrost/Spring32F.pdf
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 chance.
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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.
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higgledy wrote:

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.
-Felder
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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.
Sherwin D.
Sherwin D.
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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.
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Don't forget talking with neighbors can yield location info not found any where else. Perhaps over a BBQ etc.
Bill
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Located In S Jersey USA Zone 5 Shade
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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 earliest lettuces.
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