Monday I wrote that Organization is Key. I find that this is especially true when getting ready to start my seeds! I have a large container of seeds, some that I have purchased this year and many other leftover packets from the last couple of years. How do I know which seeds to plant when?
If you go online there are many sources to help you answer this question. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has a great page to help you. They have placed various vegetables into groups depending on how many weeks before the last frost these vegetables should be started indoors. Leeks and Onions should be started 12 weeks before your last frost date. Peppers, eggplants and tomatoes should be started 8 weeks before the last frost date and cucumbers, pumpkins and squash should be started 3 weeks before the last frost date.
The back of each seed packet will also give you this information. All seed packets indicate the optimum sowing time based on the average last spring frost date. You can also check the new Plant Hardiness Zone Map from the USDA, which will give you an idea, of what plants will thrive in your area.I usually download a little booklet from Little House in the Suburbs to help me stay organized. I can fill in which seeds I plan to start and when and also make notes as to when they sprouted etc. I am very careful to label my containers of seeds and keep track of what I plant when!
How do you find out the last spring frost date for your area? There are several sites online that can give you this information. Dave’s Garden has a page where you just enter your zip code and it will tell you. For On The Home Front we are almost guaranteed that we will not get frost from June 3 through September 17th! Our frost-free growing season is around 129 days. I do not usually transplant my seedlings in the ground until Memorial Day weekend. Even with waiting we will often have a very cold night where I have to cover the seedlings in the garden!
Seed viability is another thing to think about before starting your seeds. If you are using seeds left over from a previous year it is a good idea to check the viability of the seeds. An easy way to do this is to take 10 seeds and place them on a dampened paper towel. Moisten the paper towel and lay it over the seeds. Place the covered seeds in a zip lock plastic bag and store in a warm, dark place such as a cupboard. Check it occasionally to make sure it is still moist. After a week check the seeds to see if any have sprouted. By using ten seeds you can convert the viability to a percentage. If all 10 seeds have sprouted you have 100% viability. If only 6 sprouted the percentage drops to 60%. If the viability is low you may just have to plant more seeds or get a new packet of seeds.
Check my video on the seed viability test I did on some pepper and tomato seeds.
This week I will be planting some leek seeds. I have had very good luck with leeks in the past. Next week I’ll be mixing up some more seed starting soil. Be sure to check in next week for my soil starting mixture!
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