6 weeks to last frost: Gardeners, start your tomatoes!

Sorry I'm a little late on this one, but then again, so is the weather!  We've had a crazy week which included some good news, some bad news, and these little guys, which are pretty distracting.
Three new chicks to add to our flock:  our two oldest hens are five years old this spring, and while they are still laying well right now they are slowing down a bit. We lost two from their age-group last summer, so have started up a new generation to fill in as needed.

Sturdy Roma tomato: this is one of a few I started early to go in the hoop house. Confession: I also started my basil early.
So right, gardening.  Six weeks to the last frost is the timeline for starting tomatoes, basil, and some flowers such as calendula or marigolds.  As they are the big hitters in the garden, and so rewarding to grow from seed, they get more attention around here.  Tomatoes like heat for germination, though they are not quite as picky as peppers--I do put them on my warming mats if I have space.  This year my last round of peppers was lagging behind so the tomatoes had to wait, and ironically it was a non-heated variety that sprouted first (though it was brand-new seed).

I don't have a ton to add about starting sets at this point, except to mention that if you have been seeding all along, this is the stage where you have the most work cut out for you.  Learn from me:  don't have 17 flats of plants to take care of(!!).  But even with a few, you are watching the latest germinators, adjusting light heights, checking older plants for moisture levels, and maybe even hauling flats outside to get some real sun on some nice days (or if you have a cold frame or hoop, most days).  But it's also the stage where you start to see the rewards of all that labor.  Look at those sturdy plants!  You can almost imagine your future garden beds filled with all these babies you started yourself. 

Look at all those peppers!
And hopefully, 6 weeks to frost is also the time when you can actually get started in your outdoor gardening space.  I know folks up North are still getting snow (sorry about that!) but here in Madison we are finally getting a weekend with SEASONAL temperatures and some sun.  SO get out there, bond with your garden space, and start planning/imagining your lovely plants out there.  If I'm really lucky I'll find a dry spot to plant some peas!

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