Welcome to the 2019
Ottawa Seed Library Newsletter
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Cool and Warm Season Crops: When to Sow and Harvest Seeds
Spring is upon us and summer is fast approaching. As we’re all eager to begin planting this seasons produce, the Ottawa Seed Library thought it might be helpful to provide a quick overview of ideal planting times and locations to consider. With the last spring frost passing around May 1st - May 10th, many of us felt that we could optimize our gardening success by planning when to sow each variety in the ground. Naturally, some plants can withstand the cooler spring winds better than others. As a result, we put together a newsletter highlighting the difference between crops that can tolerate, and even thrive in cool weather, and those that are more suited for warmer microclimates.
When deciding which varieties to sow first, it may be worth referring to the planting guide below. Plants that can be started before the last spring frost, ideally when the soil can be worked, are referred to as cool season crops. These seeds not only flourish in cooler temperatures, but require them to germinate, mature, and fruit. Notable cool season plants include kale, lettuce, cabbage, radish, cilantro, peas, and spinach. While the time it takes for each crop to mature may vary, each are similar in that they need early sowing in cool, spring or fall weather. It should be noted that some plants can tolerate warmer temperatures but do so at the expense of the vegetable’s quality. The Cherry Belle Radish is one example of a vegetable that becomes less savory in the hot summer weather, garnering a pungent smell and sharp taste. Although, radishes may be the fastest growing crop in your garden with seed to harvest occurring in four weeks. So it’s not too late to plant your cool season crops, but the clock is ticking seed savers!
Unlike the varieties adapted to cool weather, warm season crops must be planted past the last spring frost and require higher soil and air temperatures. Another unique quality of these plants are their growing cycles, only producing one harvest between the spring frost and fall frost date. Important warm season crops include tomatoes, dill, beans, corn, okra, and winter squash. There are strategies to prolong warm season yields. For example, row covers have been used to protect these varieties from strong winds while allowing 70% of sunlight to pass through and keep heat in when it gets cool. Check the Seed Planting Calendar or Seed Descriptions to learn more about the varieties we’re planting and when to sow and harvest.