By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
The imminent arrival of spring heralds the planting season. Starting your tender vegetables at the correct time will ensure healthy plants that can produce bumper crops. You need to know the best time for planting seeds in zone 5 to avoid killing freezes and get the best yields. Read on to find out when to start seeds in zone 5.
Seed Planting Times for Zone 5
Zone 5 has a shorter growing season than warmer climes. That doesn’t mean you can’t get loads of produce, but it does mean you need to check your seed packets and pay attention to the “days to maturity” portion of the instructions. This will tell you how long your seeds will take from planting to harvest. Some vegetables are cool season crops and can be started even when outdoor temperatures are still cool while others such as melons, tomatoes, and eggplant require warm soil to germinate and bright, sunny, warm conditions.
Timing your planting correctly is crucial to successful harvests, but when to start seeds in zone 5? The first official frost free date is May 30 while the first chance of a freeze is October 30. That means you need to choose plants that will mature before late October and get them started as soon as possible to extend your growing season.
Some gardeners in cooler regions opt to use transplants that they set out in late May, while others grow in greenhouses to get a jump start. If that option is not available to you, or you prefer to start seeds in the ground, May 30 is your date for zone 5 seed starting.
May 30 is a ball park date. If your area is exposed, high in the mountains, or tends to get frost pockets late into the season, you will need to adjust your planting time. Seed packets contain a lot of helpful information, including regional planting times. Usually, this is displayed on a map which is color coded to correspond to specific dates. These are the seed company’s suggested planting times and it will vary dependent upon the type of vegetable or fruit. These suggestions will give you a better idea of seed planting times for zone 5.
Properly preparing soil with plenty of organic material, assuring percolation, and removing impediments to tiny seedlings is equally important.
Tips on Zone 5 Vegetable Planting
Cool season vegetables like brassicas, beets, spring onions, and others can usually be planted as soon as soil is workable. That means they may experience a late season freeze. To protect seedlings, erect a hoop house to keep ice crystals off the plants. This will slightly raise the temperature inside and prevent severe damage to young vegetables.
Due to the late start date for planting seeds in zone 5, some produce that needs a longer growing season should be started indoors and transplanted out at the end of May. These are tender plants and cannot get the growing time they need by starting them earlier outdoors because they will fail to germinate. Starting seeds in flats indoors can give you decent sized plants that are ready for the appropriate outdoor planting time.
For additional information on when and what vegetables to plant in zone 5 regions, check with your local extension office for assistance.
This article was last updated on
Please keep a couple of things in mind:
First, this schedule would be for someone who lives in a warm zone 5 or zone 6 (we live in zone 6).
Second, we have cold frames and hoop houses to offer protection to some of our earliest spring and latest fall plantings so if you don’t have a way to protect your seedlings you will want to skip the really early plantings of lettuce.
A couple of other guidelines for this Zone 5/6 Seed Starting Schedule. I try to time all my seedlings so that they spend no more than 6 or 7 weeks indoors. Usually, 6 weeks under the lights and another week outdoors hardening off, any more time than that and you will stunt the plants because they will become root-bound in the pots. We love lettuce for our salads. Every year I set out with a plan to plant about 8 lettuce plants every 3 weeks. That’s always the plan, not always the reality. When we do hit that goal it gives us a couple of heads of lettuce to eat per week. If you don’t like lettuce that much adjust your plan accordingly.