The easiest thing I can tell you is to look at the back of the seed starting package and see what it says! Post done right? Nope, I need to do better than that!
Should I Start My Seeds Indoors or In-ground?
There are two ways to start seeds: ahead of time in a pot or directly in the ground. Plants that like an early start are plants like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Early starting plants are generally summer plants that need to start out of the cold but need a long growing season. There are some summer plants you can get an early start on but don't like root disturbance. Cucumbers, melons, squash, and other cucurbits fit this description but are often best sowed directly in the soil. For these plants use biodegradable pots to avoid disturbing the roots when you plant them in the ground.
|Sugar Snap Pea|
|A Few Plants that Tolerate Frost|
|Radish, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale, lettuce, chard, cauliflower, carrot, onion, peas parsley|
The Frost Date
When you start your seeds indoors take into account the last frost date for your area and when you actually want the plants in the ground. Last year I was early with planting my tomatoes. They were ready to go in right after the frost date had passed. They only problem was that we had cold weather after the frost date. I protected my plants and none were lost but it brings up another issue: soil warmth. Warm season plants like their feet to be warm too. If the soil temperature is too cool the roots won't grow. In this case getting an early start didn't mean they produced any earlier. In fact these plants actually were slightly stunted compared to the next batch of tomatoes I planted a week or two later. My advice would be to plan to plant warm season vegetables outdoors a couple extra weeks after the frost date to get the soil warm, but there are ways to cheat the system...
|Plastic Jug Cloche|
Take your time from the last frost date and add to it any extra time you might want. Like I mentioned earlier, a week or two after the frost date isn't going to make a big difference in the long run of the plant's growth cycle. Then figure the amount of time it takes to grow the seeds you want and count back to figure out when to start your seeds. It's a fairly simple calculation that will make your timing just right!
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