Chase away cabin fever and ring in the new year by deciding which vegetables you'll start from seed for the garden. Sowing seeds indoors gives your plants a jump start, so they will produce fruits earlier than if they are started in the ground.
Look up the average last day of expected frost in your area. We recommend using this frost chart:
Once you know the estimated last frost date in spring for your region use the chart below to calculate the dates in the empty columns for the vegetable(s) you want to grow.
1. Subtract the 'Weeks from Sowing' from 'My Estimated Last Frost Date in Spring' by looking at a calendar.
2. Add or subtract the 'When to Set Outdoors' time from 'My Estimated Last Frost Date in Spring' to determine when you can transplant your vegetable seeds outside.
Your Personalized Seed-Starting Plan
My Estimated Last Frost Date in Spring:_________________________
One Week Before Transplant
This step is important. Before planting your vegetable seedlings outside they must be hardened off. Hardening off is a process that gradually introduces seedlings to outdoor conditions, such as wind, stronger sunlight, and cooler night temperatures. Start by setting the seedlings out for one hour, and then add an hour every following day. They should be in a protected location that is out of direct sun and away from strong wind.
Day 1 – Outside for one hour.
Day 2 – Outside for two hours.
Day 3 – Outside for three hours.
Day 4 – Outside for four hours.
Day 5 – Outside for five hours.
Day 6 – Outside for six hours.
Day 7 – Outside for seven hours.
If you forget one day, all is not lost, simply pick the schedule back up the next day. At the end of the week the seedlings are adjusted to living outdoors and are ready to transplant.
There are some vegetables that do best when planted directly in the ground, after the last frost. These are "direct sow" seeds:
No matter which way you start your seeds, indoors or directly in the ground, be aware that you can grow many vegetables in a traditional garden as well as in containers. Lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, radishes, and eggplants can grow equally well in a pot on your patio as a prepared plot in your backyard.