Don Kinzler, Published March 07 2014
Fielding questionsQ. We ordered organic tomato and onion seeds from a local company. When should they be started inside and when should we transplant them outside?
– Nancy and Carl Palmer, Moorhead
A. Dates to start seeds indoors are determined by the date you plan to “set them out” (garden talk for transplanting into the garden).
Each plant type requires a certain number of weeks to grow from seed into usable transplants. In our region, prime outdoor transplanting dates are between May 15-25 for frost-tender vegetables like tomatoes.
By counting backwards the necessary number of weeks, we can establish indoor seeding dates. Tomatoes can therefore be seeded in early April. However, onions are a “cool season” crop, meaning they can tolerate light frosts.
They can be set out in late April or early May and can be seeded indoors as early as Feb. 1. The following list summarizes indoor seeding dates for vegetables in our region.
Feb. 1-March 1 (10 to 12 weeks needed): onions and celery
March 15-20 (eight weeks): broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, peppers, eggplant
April 1-5 (six weeks): tomato, lettuce, herbs
May 1 (two to three weeks): squash pumpkins, cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon, muskmelon
Onions can be directly seeded into trays in which they’ll remain and grow until gardening time, when you gently separate the plants and space them within the garden row. Tomatoes are best seeded into a germination tray and then transplanted into individual small pots, cups, or cell-packs when they develop a set of “true” leaves.
Q. I’m hoping you might be interested in the National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program’s North Dakota state winner, Jada Wraalstad from Clara Barton School, Fargo.
She grew a humongous cabbage and was selected winner by the North Dakota Agriculture Department from the 721 kids who participated from the state.
Winners receive a $1,000 savings bond toward education. Registration for 2014 is online now at www.bonnieplants.com.
– Joan Casanova, Green Earth Media Group, Fairfield, Conn.
A. Thanks for the information. In studying the program, I discovered that in 2002 Bonnie Plants started the 3rd Grade Cabbage Program to inspire a love of vegetable gardening in young people.
Each year they distribute over a million free cabbage plants to third-grade classrooms across the country. Teachers submit a class winner and a child is chosen via random drawing by each state’s Director of Agriculture to receive a $1,000 scholarship.
Cabbages were chosen because they were the first plants sold by the company in 1918. The cabbages are the O.S. Cross variety, which produces very large heads, making the process exciting for kids. Third-grade teachers can register at the Bonnie Plants website by choosing “Cabbage Program” at the top.
Free cabbage plants will be delivered from the closest Bonnie Plants growing station to each classroom. Home-school groups can also register for plants. Registration deadlines and delivery times vary by location as you register with your zipcode. Congratulations to Jada Wraalstad and Clara Barton School!
If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler at ForumGrowingTogether@hotmail.com. Questions with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city, and state for appropriate advice.