Potager Article #13

A series of articles presented by Candy Horton, an OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer

The weather has been so lovely the past few days that getting out into the garden has been fun. So much can be done right now that will help speed things along as it gets warmer. I checked my radishes, and the frigid temperatures did not benefit them. So I know that this fall, I will need to either get a heavier frost fabric or put several layers over that bed or both when the temperatures drop that low. For now, I will clean out that bed and get ready to start planting new seeds, as the temperatures are slated to be warmer over the next week. This will help me determine how early I can start planting seeds and see how they do.

The other project I have in the potager garden is to start laying out the new garden section with the stock tank pond, insect hotels, and sitting area. This shouldn’t take very long, and I should be able to move quickly through this section. I’m hoping I can get started on the third and last area before the end of the summer; we will see.

The last project I’m working on is to start seeds for the plants I will be planting all around the garden.   I want to start some pepper plants, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I will also plant some annual flowers in pots in the section I have already finished. I’m going to be using two methods. I had heard about one from one of our other Master Gardeners but have never tried. It’s using opaque milk jugs to start seeds outside. Depending on the seeds that you are starting will depend on when you start the seeds. Once you plant the seeds, leave the lid off, set the jug outside, and leave it until it is warm enough to plant the plants. There are several different flower seeds that I can plant in February and March, but there are more that I can plant using this method over the next few weeks and months. I have a link below for you to check out this method.

The other method I will use again this year is to start seeds indoors using seed starting kits that you can buy at the local box store or garden centers and grow lights.   I have tested my leftover seeds from last year to see my viability rate. Depending on the seeds, my seeds are about 75% or a little more. Each seed pack has a date that tells me when the seeds were packed for sale. The two packs I’m looking at as I write this were packed in 2022. It’s not too bad for a two-year-old. When I look at the seed pack, it tells me when I should start the seeds if I want to start indoors. It will also tell me when to sow the seeds directly in the garden. It also tells me what the seeds need to grow into healthy plants. The seed pack that I’m looking at tells me that I need to start the seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost.

The way that I find out what my last spring frost or the first fall frost is is to go online and Google first/last frost. Numerous calculators will pull up, and I can then enter my zip code into the calculator. This year, I discovered that this should be around April 19th. I should be about 90% safe to start planting plants and seeds outside around this time. Several of my seed packs have instructions that tell me that I can start planting seeds as soon as the soil is workable, and when the soil temperatures reach about 50 degrees, my seeds should start growing.   I have purchased an inexpensive meat thermometer from the dollar store to start checking the soil temperatures so that I can have another way to know when I can start putting out seeds. I have copied a couple of links below that I found very useful.


WINTER SOWING in MILK JUGS.pdf (osu.edu)

Seed Starting | Growing Franklin (osu.edu)

Frost Dates: First and last frost dates by zipcode – Garden.org

WINTER SOWING in MILK JUGS.pdf (osu.edu)

Seed Starting | Growing Franklin (osu.edu)

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