Do you wonder when the ideal time is to start seeds to have the most success? This guide has all you need to know about when to start seeds for 30 of the most popular garden vegetables.
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When to Start Seeds
This guide covers when to start seeds indoors, when to transplant seedlings outdoors, when to start seeds by direct-sowing in the garden, and how many days you’ll have to wait until harvesting.
Need help starting seeds inside? Get my step-by-step guide to starting seeds indoors.
The following table will help you get your seeds started at the right time. The timing is relative to your spring frost date, i.e. Lettuce can be started indoors 6 weeks before your spring frost date. Click here to find your frost dates.
|Crop Name||Indoor Start Date||Transplant Earliest Date||Transplant Latest Date||Direct Sow Earliest Date||Direct Sow Latest Date|
|Beans||N/A||N/A||N/A||1 week after||10 weeks after|
|Beets||N/A||N/A||N/A||2 weeks before||N/A|
|Broccoli||9 weeks||2 weeks before||N/A||2 weeks before||N/A|
|Brussels sprouts||6 weeks||2 weeks before||9 weeks after||2 weeks before||9 weeks after|
|Cabbage||6 weeks||2 weeks before||9 weeks after||week of||9 weeks after|
|Carrot||N/A||N/A||N/A||2 weeks before||N/A|
|Cauliflower||6 weeks||2 weeks after||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Collard greens||6 weeks||2 weeks before||N/A||week of||N/A|
|Cucumber||3 weeks||2 weeks after||8 weeks after||2 weeks after||8 weeks after|
|Eggplant||8 weeks||4 weeks after||8 weeks after||N/A||N/A|
|Kale||9 weeks||4 weeks before||N/A||4 weeks before||N/A|
|Kohlrabi||N/A||N/A||N/A||2 weeks before||N/A|
|Lettuce||6 weeks||4 weeks before||N/A||4 weeks before||N/A|
|Melon||N/A||N/A||N/A||4 weeks after||10 weeks after|
|Okra||2 weeks||4 weeks after||10 weeks after||N/A||N/A|
|10 weeks||4 weeks before||8 weeks after||N/A||N/A|
(sets & transplants)
|N/A||4 weeks before||8 weeks after||N/A||N/A|
|Peas||N/A||N/A||N/A||4 weeks before||12 weeks after|
|Peppers||8 weeks||2 weeks after||10 weeks after||N/A||N/A|
|Potatoes||N/A||N/A||N/A||2 weeks after||8 weeks after|
|Radish||N/A||N/A||N/A||4 weeks before||N/A|
|Rutabaga||N/A||N/A||N/A||3 weeks after||N/A|
|Spinach||N/A||N/A||N/A||2 weeks before||N/A|
|Summer Squash||N/A||N/A||N/A||4 weeks after||10 weeks after|
|N/A||4 weeks after||10 weeks after||N/A||N/A|
|Swiss chard||4 weeks||week of||N/A||week of||N/A|
|Tomatoes||6 weeks||2 weeks after||10 weeks after||N/A||N/A|
|Turnips||N/A||N/A||N/A||2 weeks before||N/A|
|Winter Squash||N/A||N/A||N/A||4 weeks after||10 weeks after|
Considerations for Seed Starting Dates
Starting seeds in relation to your frost dates is the most common way to figure out when to start seeds. However, if you live in a hot, dry climate, or at a high elevation, frost dates might not always be your best guide.
If you garden in these conditions, then you’ll want to check with local garden experts to learn how to plan the garden season around your unique conditions. Staying on course and starting seeds at the right time requires just a bit of planning and organization. Check out my tips on year-round gardening.
Would you like to learn more about seed starting and planting?
You’ll find loads of information just like this in my book, The Suburban Micro-Farm.
Get your seed starting dates automatically calculated for you!
Imagine a tool in which you type in your frost dates, and it automatically calculates the following for EACH CROP:
- indoor seed starting dates
- transplanting dates
- direct sowing outside dates
- succession planting (how many days between sowing for a continuous harvest)
- spacing in the garden
- days to harvest
- companion planting suggestions
- special soil amendments
PLUS, fall planting dates for each crop, as well, for a continuous harvest.
The good news: This tool exists, and it is just one of four BONUS DOWNLOADS you receive with your purchase of The Suburban Micro-Farm!
Read more about all four of the bonuses in my article Four Garden Planning Tools You Need This Year.
In the corresponding chapter of The Suburban Micro-Farm on seed starting and planting, I cover all aspects of seed starting: How to start seeds inside, how to care for seedlings, how to transplant seedlings in the garden, how to sow seeds directly in the garden, and how to care for seedlings in the garden so they grow up to be productive plants.
Need more inspiration?
- 5 myths that keep you from starting a garden
- 6 tips for gardening success (and six things not to do)
- Starting Seeds Indoors: A Step-by-Step Guide
Do you have an annual routine surrounding when to start seeds?