It has finally started to warm up here after weeks upon weeks of frigid temps & over 30 inches of snow. We have been enjoying a few 40+ degree days here, which of course just serves to get me itching to garden it up as soon as possible. I’m in gardening zone 5b, so planting outside in the ground is still a few months away though. What’s a gardener to do then? Start planning when to start that mountain of seeds (38 packets & counting) that I acquired during all of this gardening downtime, that’s what! I have lofty plans to grow most of my veggies from seeds that I saved last year. I also want to grow most of my flowers from seeds as well. But, first comes the planning.
When starting seeds, your first step should always be to look up when your average last frost date is. This is your benchmark to find out when to plant what in order to give you & your plants a head start. Once you have that date figured out all you need to do is count back from that day to your current date to find out how many weeks you have until your average last frost. My average last frost date is May 15, which is in 11 weeks. I don’t have any seeds that need to be planted prior to 11 weeks, so this gives me plenty of time to plan out my seed planting & boy do I need it!
My next step was to go through all of my seeds & categorize them by when they needed to be planted. A lot of seeds don’t like being transplanted, therefore you need to direct sow them. This means that it’s best practice to plant the seeds directly in the ground, instead of transplanting them later. As antsy as I get this time of year to start planting things, I secretly love direct-sown seeds. There are just fewer steps to complete & with all the seeds that I have to plant this year, I welcome the easy peasy ones! I plan to direct sow marigolds, celosias, melons, cucumbers, peas, pumpkins & squashes. My marigolds, cucumbers & peas were some of my from-seed stars last year, so I’m pumped to give it a go again. A bunch of the flower seeds that I bought from Floret Flower are also direct sow flowers including, love-in-a-mist, foxglove & Shirley poppies. I have never grown any of these flowers before & I’m so excited to try them out!
That still leaves me with a bunch of seeds that I need to start either indoors in front of my grow light or using the winter sowing method. I tried out winter sowing last year during my tomato wars series. It started off amazingly well & then a late cold snap ended up zapping all but one of my tomato seedlings. That doesn’t deter me though, it just makes me want to try again. After a little research, it seems that my best bet for winter sowing will be lettuce, poppies, petunias & sweet peas. I really enjoy winter sowing because I love the idea of growing plants in little greenhouses that you make yourself by reusing milk jugs. Also, if you plant the right seeds, winter sowing requires little to no effort to get the seedlings going once you plant them. Plus, it creates hardy plants that don’t need to be introduced to the outdoor elements. Wins all the way through if you pick the right plants.
So, that left me with the seeds that I need to start indoors. I separated these by how many weeks prior to the average last frost date that they need to be planted. My impatiens need to be started 8-10 weeks before the last frost. Whereas, both Bells of Ireland & China Asters need to be started 6-8 weeks before the last frost. Amaranth comes up last out of my flower seeds with planting 4-6 weeks before the last frost. With that in mind, I now have a good idea about how many seed starting trays I need to order, plus seed starting mix & fertilizer. Watch out, Amazon, here I come!
I plan on re-doing my tomato wars series from last year by starting tomato seeds four different ways again: direct sown, indoors, hydroponics & winter sown. I had such ho-hum results last year that left me pretty disappointed, so I’d like to give it another go & see if I can improve upon those results. I saved a bunch of seeds from tomatoes that I grew last year, so I’ll be able to try multiple varieties in multiple ways. I am already growing tomatoes hydroponically from seeds, which has been going so phenomenally that I had to remove & pot up most of the plants! Hopefully, all of the methods will work just as well & I’ll be able to get the tomato jungle of my dreams this year!
Well, that’s a wrap for my seed planning! Next up is actually starting up all of the early seeds, which I’ll start up next week with my earliest winter sown seeds. By mid-March, I will be starting new seeds about every couple of weeks until about a month before May 15th. Then comes all the direct seeds. Needless to say, I’ll be a busy little bee once things really start popping. As always, I’ll take you along with me on this seed-starting journey. Stay tuned & happy gardening, everyone!