Tuesday, February 23, 2010

When to Start Seeds

I get a lot of search hits about 'when to start seeds', but new gardeners inevitably end up at a post I did two years ago, Don't Make Seed Starting So Complicated. That post might help on the how, but doesn't give them a darn thing about when.

I guess it's time to help out with the 'when' to start those seeds.

First, the one thing you must know is when the last and first frost dates are for your area. This post should help out with that.

Mother Nature doesn't always work around those dates. Recently, it has been a very rare year when she does. But, the least you can do is give it a try and maybe she'll decide to look at a calendar this year.

Instead of giving a long list of what to start, since everyone is in different areas of the country, and even different countries altogether, I'm going to show you something that is so simple it's ridiculous. (yeah, it's one of those 'why didn't I think of that!' things). And the best part is that it will work no matter what part of the country, or world, you live in!

It's called The Grow Guide* and it looks like this when you first get there:


It's ridiculously easy to use.
First, pick your growing season. At this time of the year it's going to be spring. It also works great for planning that fall garden come summer time - just change the season to 'fall' and switch the planning date. But, right now, we're only going to deal with the spring garden.
Select a planning date. If you leave it as is, it will automatically pick today's date.
Next, simply pick your first and last frost dates and click 'process my grow guide data'.

Since there is nothing planned for me right now and I wouldn't have had anything to show you but a blank chart, I moved the 'planning date' forward and this is what comes up for the week of March 8th based on my own first and last frost dates:


One of the best things about this program is that you can keep moving the dates forward so you know in advance what you'll be sowing weeks ahead of time. I click through from week to week and transfer the sowing dates to paper. This way I have the entire sowing season at my fingertips.

One of the great things about this planner is that it not only shows you when to start what seeds inside, but also outside, when to start hardening and when to transplant. This is my result for moving the planning date to my last frost date of May 31:


The rest of the Weekend Gardener website is equally awesome. You can find seed starting info where "One page is devoted to each vegetable, flower, or herb seed."

This is just some of the info you'll get if you click 'broccoli':

About This Plant...
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus and species: Brassica oleracea (Botrytis group)
Growing Season: spring and fall
Indoor Sowing...
Time needed to reach transplant size: 6-8 weeks
When to transplant to garden: 4 weeks before to 2 weeks after last spring frost
Outdoor Sowing...
When to sow outdoors: 4 weeks before last spring frost
Other Sowing Guidelines...
Approx. germination time: 4-20 days
Germination temp.: 45-85 degrees F.
Sowing depth: 1/4 inch
Days to maturity: 50-80 days from transplant

So, if you have questions about when you should be starting vegetable seeds, I hope you'll give the Grow Guide a try. It's easy and fun and isn't that what gardening is suppose to be?
And, of course, if you don't want to bother with all that starting seeds inside thing, there's always my biggest obsession: WinterSowing! (seeds started in recycled containers outside in the snow)

Happy (when to start seeds) Growing!

*I am, in now way, affiliated with the Grow Guide or Weekend Gardener. I just think it's an awesome program and equally awesome website for both new and experienced growers.



Anonymous said...

A lot of people are way too keen to start sowing when it's far too early to do so!
As I sow most of my flowers and vegetables direct I make sure that the ground is reasonably warm and dry.I also check that the forecast for at least a week ahead is good before doing so.
Thanks for such an informative post!
Flighty xx

Tina said...

Hey there, Flighty,
thanks for dropping in!
Yes, I'm also guilty of wanting to start much too soon. It's hard to wait.
We have such a short growing season and I can't really direct sow much until June (on the safe side) so I have to get a head start inside.
And . . . it's almost time! lol