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When should I sow seeds for my vegetable garden?

Seedlings in soil

With spring right around the corner and seed catalogs pouring in, many gardeners are anxious to get their hands in the soil, myself included. It may currently be a little early and damp to put shovel to ground, but it’s never too early to plan what vegetables and herbs you might grow. Gather your materials now and start planning your growing space. You may choose to forego the indoor jungle and winter sow seeds that remain outdoors. Though we get excited and want to put those seeds in soil, waiting until the right time will avoid leggy plants that are ready before the ground is. If you are unsure about your hardiness zone, you can find it on this plant hardiness zone map from USDA.

How outdoor planting times are determined

When to sow seeds

  • Count backward from the frost free date by the number of ‘days to maturity’ suggestion on the seed package
  • Many cool season crops, like lettuce, peas, and broccoli, can be sown now
  • Warm season crops like tomatoes and peppers can wait until mid or late March- some even later or direct sown

Ensure germination trays stay moist but well drained and receive plenty of light. A warm, humid environment will be essential, but don’t allow trays to sit in water as that can promote fungus or mold. Seeing that first seed sprout is one of life’s greatest gardening pleasures!

For more information, check out this blog from Educator Kelly Allsup.