We've all done it; seeded too early, got too excited at the sight of all the plants in the garden center, or just waited too long at the other end of the season.
Here are some ways to get more out of the growing season (or to save plants that were planted out of season):
Annuals like lettuce, tomatoes, geraniums and other bedding plants need to be planted only a few weeks before they are to go outside. Many times, people get too carried away in their eagerness to garden, and seed too early.
Sometimes this will work out okay if you have enough light to keep them compact. Other times the plants will struggle, and get too tall, lean or flop over.
If you look on the seed package, and compare it with a calendar, you can figure out the amount of time it will take to produce a nice little healthy seedling.
What you need to know here is your last frost date. Once you have that information, use it to estimate when it will be safe to put your little darlings outside.
This is not foolproof. There may still be nights when frost threatens, and your weather forecast may tell you when this is. Otherwise, you may be able to tell by how it looks outside. Clear nights, with no wind, are when it's most likely to get to freezing.
You need to be proactive when this happens, and it will, even after your predicted last frost date. I've lived in areas where you could see frost any night of the year, and it's challenging.
Here are some options to get more out of the season;
One of the best materials to be developed in modern times - spun bonded polyester row covers. This looks and feels like interfacing, which is what you would use when sewing a garment.
There are lots of sizes and configurations to choose from. If you're going to be cutting it into different sizes, use two layers for about 4 degrees of frost protection.