I am still pretty new to vegetable gardening but I love it. I haven’t been as successful as I would like in the past, but I am still learning. I was wondering about the weather we are having this year. It seems unseasonably warm to me, as was our whole winter. I wonder how this will affect our gardening? I need to start seeds for my garden but I really don’t have a great setup in the home for doing this. I have no windows that get a lot of light and I do not have any of the equipment I could use to make up for this. Is it possible to start my seeds in small pots outdoors right now and bring them in at night? If we have a day or two of cold weather I could put them in the best window I have, until warm weather reappears. I will be growing peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce mostly.
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Susan in Kentucky: Indeed this year so far has brought us warmer than normal temperatures and it can make the gardener in us want to get an early start on our vegetable gardens. The reality is that it is not black and white, and if we look back at 2007 we had a really warm spring and then killing frosts around Easter time. Mother Nature is very unpredictable and it is best to take precautions if you want to plant before the average frost-free date (May 10) for our area arrives. For the crops you mentioned, all are considered warm-season crops but the lettuce is a cool-season crop. The lettuce seeds can be sown directly into the garden now but the warm-season crop should be started in containers. Each seed packet will have specific instructions in terms of germination time so keep this in mind when planting your seeds. I think you are fine to start the seeds and keep them outside but pay close attention to the weather forecast and bring them in if nighttime temperatures fall below 50 degrees F. Vegetable gardening is very rewarding and we learn from year to year what works and what does not in our own gardens. The most important aspects of a vegetable garden is the amount of light and nutrients. The space should get a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight each day and the soil should be nutrient-rich. If you have not added any amendments it might be a good idea. If you want more specific information on growing vegetables in Kentucky you can visit www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf
. This link is to a publication available for home gardeners provided by the Cooperative Extension Service in collaboration with land grant universities in Kentucky.