Starting Seeds Guide
Good afternoon gardeners! It’s almost that time to start those seeds! Today what we are going to do is create your own gardening calendar where we will look at when to start seeds indoors and when to start seeds inside based on our individual last frost date and projected harvest date.
What you are going to need is a calendar . You can use a physically calendar or get app for your phone - I will be using the SimpleCal app. If you click on the link icon, you can download the application from the App Store!
You do need to sync your calendar to this app. What I did was created a new blank calendar on my system calendar. Then I went into my calendar app and I turned off all my synced calendars except for my blank calendar. This is going to allow me to work freely without seeing loved ones’ birthdays.
Now after you get your preferred method of charting the calendar, you will need to pick out colors to chart your information. If you’re using a physical calendar, please get a few different color pens - you will need pens for the following: when to start seeds inside, when to transfer seedlings outside, when to start seeds outside, and a color for the last frost date. If you are following along on the SimpleCal app, you will also need four three. I will be working with blue, orange and red.
First step, collect ALL your seeds. On the seed packet, you are going to look at the maturity date. The maturity date means two things: the length of time AFTER your sown seeds have developed their true leaves or the time after you transplant your seedlings into the ground. This will help us plan when we plant. Some plants do better being started inside and some plants do better being started in the soil. We will go those plants as we plan out our calendar.
Second step, click the link to find your last frost date:
My previous article and you have your last frost date, let’s mark that on the calendar. For me, my last frost date based off of the location of my garden center is May 2. I will put this in the calendar in red along with my recommended date of transplanting outside.
Now here’s the fun part! We are going to chart all our seeds that we want to grow. These are the plants that we will be looking at both cold crops and our warm season vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, lettuce, kale, spinach, beets, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and cucumbers. Things like radish, potatoes, onions, peas, beans, corn, and garlic can be started outside. We will talk about these plants briefly on when we want to sow them outside.
Let’s start with the warm season vegetables! I created a chart of when to sow your vegetable seeds inside. What you do is you count backwards from your last frost date. Let’s start with out tomatoes, peppers, Brussel sprouts and eggplant. These crops take eight to ten weeks to get big enough to transplant them outside. I tell my customers to start these NOW! Think about it, when we get our tomatoes and peppers - they are well developed seedlings from our local garden centers and that’s what we want to aim for when it’s time to transplant our seedlings into the soil outside. Let’s start with tomatoes and peppers, these guys like to be planted eight weeks before the last frost date. Go to your calendar and find your last frost date, now count back eight weeks and then take your designated color and mark it! It should look like this. This would leave me with March 14, 2023
Now, both eggplant and Brussel sprouts are ten weeks away from the last frost date which means we will start them two weeks before our tomatoes and peppers. This brings us to February 28, 2023
Cucumbers and zucchini are also very popular in the garden, you would start these inside four weeks before last frost date. That takes you to April 5, 2023. Now remember, we are planting them the weekend AFTER Mother’s Day so we are able to give our seedlings a little bit mor time growing before we put them in our garden.
Some crops, like beans and corn do better planted in the ground after the last frost date. Corn should be planted in the ground three weeks after the last frost date and beans can be planted in the ground a little bit after the last frost date.
Some things that can be sown straight into the ground are our cold crop vegetables. If you wanted to start them inside, I would have started broccoli, cabbage, kale, lettuce, spinach, cauliflower four weeks before mid March to be able to transplant them outside for that time. Mid March is the time of the year when your cold crop starters become available and I feel it’s a good indication to plant your cold crop seedlings or starters. If you wanted to sow them directly from seed in the ground, I would sow them a week before the first day of spring. I would also include planting my cold crop root vegetables, such as carrots, radishes, and beets. We do not want to start our root vegetables inside because we can damage our crop when we need to transplant them. You can also plant onion sets mid March as well to harvest them in the fall time.
Some other things we can plant that I have noted on my calendar is peas can be planted for St. Patrick’s Day, this is an old wives tale that has been shared with me that I pass onto customers. We can also plant potatoes outside two weeks before our last frost date. Onions can be planted mid March outside as well
I really recommend starting warm season crops inside but if you chose to plant them outside as seeds, you want to sow them two weeks after the last frost date.I’m
Please know that starting seeds and planting seedlings do take a lot of time and planning. With my article, I planned around my area of New Jersey, Morris county. The timing will be different when it comes every place, whether it’s in the United States or outside of the United States. Always consult your friends at your local garden center. Please contact me if you need assistance in figuring out when to plant your seeds and creating your personalized planting calendar! I am only one message away for assistance in your growing your own success! Thank you so much for reading! Drop your questions and garden plans below!
Get Smart with Seed Starting!
Hello February! March is right around the corner and we should thinking about starting our seeds for this year growing season. We want to start things about six to eight weeks before the last frost date. For you new gardeners jumping onto my blog, the last frost date is the final spring frost in your location. The last frost date for my neck of the woods is May 2, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. To find your last frost date: go to the link at the bottom of my seed starting article and type in your zip code. Finding out this date will pave the way for your seed starting schedule. In my honest opinion, I have seen cold snaps in May where I have lost plant stock at my garden center. I do tell my customers to think about planting the weekend AFTER Mother’s Day. If you wanted to really plan out starting seeds of even buying vegetable seedlings, plan it the weekend after Mother’s Day because you will be in the clear from any lingering cold snaps.
I have plans to release a short and sweet timing guide when it comes to starting our seeds, however I do have a Seed Starting Check List that will help you think about everything you need to get your seeds going. There are many different products out there and this check list will stream line it to the most important items that you will need. Garden centers are fully stocked and ready to rock and roll to help you start your seeds! Take a moment to shop at your local independent garden center for top notch products and talk to them about your gardening goals because their plethora of knowledge will definitely help you achieve those goals!
We are going to start with talking about trays and just go down the items list that I have presented! Please know that the brands that I have mentioned in my article, you can click on the picture and it will take you to their webpage for you to explore the brand!
Trays are a given to starting your seeds. They can come in different forms to empty trays or trays with cell inserts. You can even look up ways to up cycle items in your home to use to start seeds as well (such as egg cartons). If you use an empty tray, you do need to think about transplanting them into small pots at some point. The inserts are excellent because you will eventually have just one plant in the insert instead of a whole bunch of plants needing to be transplanted into little pots down the road so that your sprouts have room to grow, whereas when you start your seeds in inserts - you put three seeds in the insert in the event seeds do not germinate or do not thrive. If you have all those three seeds germinating, you can remove two and put them into their own pot!
Tray domes or plastic wrap, is good to protect the seeds, keep in moisture as well as heat. This aids you where you don’t need to water the soil very often. Some tray domes have a vent to them because you do want air circulation to let some air out. If you do go with plastic wrap, you need to be able to let out some air stuck inside. If we keep the soil moist and not promote good air circulation, mold can develop on top of the soil.
Heating mats are important because it keeps your soil at the right temperature to encourage the seeds to develop roots. We know when the conditions are right out seeds will grow. Seeds want their soil to be between 68°F to 86°F depending on the type of plant you are trying to germinate.
Seed starting soil is important because it is light and fluffy, as well as less nutritious compared to other potting soils out there. Seed starting soil provides an excellent environment to start seeds in but it does not give seedlings what they need for long term growth - this is when you take your seedlings and transfer them into potting soil. My two favorite seed starting soils is Espoma’s Seed Starting Soil and Fox Farm Light Warrior seed starting soil. Both excellent product lines for your gardening needs!
Labels are always good because it allows you to identify your seedlings before the true leaves have developed or if plant identification is not a strong suit for you, it helps you familiarize yourself with a name or variety of the plant as it is actively growing.
Spray bottles are the best tool for seed starting because it allows you to just keep the soil moist. Because you are starting seeds, you do not need to soak the soil as if you are watering a plant because you can wash out or drown out your seeds; as well as your seeds do not have a complex root system where they do not need to utilize that much water.
You are going to need seeds! That’s a given for this gardening adventure! You may have seeds left over from last year or you may need to purchase your seeds. I recommend buying from your local garden center when it comes to your seeds. My garden center suppliers Lake Valley Seeds, located out in Colorado and they have an excellent product line when it comes to organic vegetables and flowering plants!
I hope with my seed starting article you have learned what you need for your adventure to starting seeds! It is such a true reward being able to start from seed. My customers have such a love from starting their vegetables and being able to experience the growing process from seed to harvest. I encourage this practice because growing your own vegetables is healthy for the mind and body as well as being able to enjoy fresh produce. Please shoot me a message if you want to step into seed starting! I have answers for your questions! Happy growing!
*The photos included in the article are found off of Google search
*This is not an ad for the brands that have been included; these brands are supported by me that I do sell at the garden center. The brands that have been supported in my article today, if you click on the picture it will take you to the company site so you can check out their product lines.
*Seed Starting Checklist is created with Text Art