Starting Seeds Early. Why some and not others . . .

Jordan Freytag + photo

Jordan Freytag

Jan 24
3 min read
bubble 0

The initial thing a lot of folks wonder after they've decided to grow a garden that season is "Where do I start?" And then the more complex question follows, "Which vegetable crops do I start indoors and which do I plant directly in the garden?" Well, it really depends on the climate conditions of your area, but the gist of it is that the closer you are to the equator the more likely you will be able to sow tender vegetable crop seeds like tomatoes and peppers outside because that climate is predictably warm. But if you are in a more temperate climate (like many of us in the U.S.), you'll need to start your tender crops indoors (either in a greenhouse or growing space in your home) until outdoor conditions are warm enough for you to transplant your seedlings.

That being said, the true first step is to pin point the last frost date of your area and calculate 2 weeks beyond that to get estimate a transplant date for your potential seedlings. Then, countback 8 weeks from that projected date and that is your latest possible indoor sowing date for your tender garden seeds.

Tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, and cucumbers are among the popular tender crops. So, decide how many tender crops you'll want this year and how many cold hardy crops. Once decided, set aside your cold hardy seeds and focus primarily on starting your tender crops. Cold hardy plants and root crops are prime candidates for direct sowing because, as the title implies, they can withstand colder temperatures—in some cases require it, such as broccoli and cabbage. Other directing-sowing prime candidates are determined by the plants inability to withstand root damage when transplanting. So, keep that in mind but seed those seeds aside for a later date.

Before you sow indoors, you'll want to make sure that you have these supplies:

32 Cell Starter Tray
72 Cell Starter Tray
288 Cell Starter Tray
10"x20" Trays Without Holes
Seed Sower
Spray Bottle

Make sure you have adequate shelf space and breathing space; good airflow promotes healthy growth in the seedlings. We recommend starting your seedlings up to 11 weeks before your projected transplanting date and sow a few each week until the last possible sow date. This gives you the chance to pick the best specimen(s), the ones with the most promising growth, to go in the ground. Maintaining temperature and watering correctly are the most important steps over the next few weeks. Below is a chart of garden crops and flowers with the lowest possible temperature they can stand to germinate.

Seedlings set outside to transition into outdoor environments

Water lightly and maintain a moist but not soggy feel. Once your seedlings poke through the soil, begin giving them at least 8 hours of light—many folks provide their seedlings with up to 12 hours of light. Watch your seedlings grow and begin determining which specimens are the most ideal for transplanting. When the time draws near for transplanting, begin checking the tempeprature of your garden bed to minimize transplant shock when you plant your seedlings in the earth. And most importantly, around that time you need to begin hardening off.

Early Girl Seedling Ready For Transplant

Early Girl Seedling Ready For Transplant

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

0 Comments

No Comments yet! Be the first to start a conversation

  1. What Does the Updated USDA Zone Map Mean?gardener planting tomato plant

    What Does the Updated USDA Zone Map Mean?

    Written By Lara Wadsworth You may have heard a rumor about how the USDA has updated the zone map. The rumors are true! In November of 2023, the USDA released an updated hardiness zone map. What are the practical implications of this for you as a farmer...


    Ashleigh Smith + photo

    Ashleigh Smith

    2024-07-10
    7 min read
    bubble 4
  2. Nurturing The Fierce Green Fire: Aldo Leopoldmountain landscape

    Nurturing The Fierce Green Fire: Aldo Leopold

    Written By Lara Wadsworth “When we begin to see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Such were Aldo Leopold’s words in his most popular book, A Sand County Almanac. This book is now known as one of the ...


    Ashleigh Smith + photo

    Ashleigh Smith

    2024-07-09
    6 min read
    bubble 0
  3. Ron Finley: Empowering Urban GardenersMan harvesting tomatoes

    Ron Finley: Empowering Urban Gardeners

    Written By Lara Wadsworth Have you ever wondered why gardening is often associated with retired individuals or hippies these days? I often do, and think this should change. Ron Finley, a Los Angeles-based fashion designer and urban gardener, also think...


    Ashleigh Smith + photo

    Ashleigh Smith

    2024-07-02
    6 min read
    bubble 0
  4. Rachel Carson: The Mother of EnvironmentalismTractor nozzle spraying pesticides

    Rachel Carson: The Mother of Environmentalism

    Written By Lara Wadsworth It is common knowledge these days that pesticides should be used with caution. While conventional farmers continue to use them frequently, they realize the danger of careless applications. Today, pesticides are applied in much...


    Ashleigh Smith + photo

    Ashleigh Smith

    2024-06-25
    7 min read
    bubble 0