When I decided to grow my veggie garden from seed this year, I realized I’d have to spend a little time thinking about a seed starting schedule. But I’m a pantser which basically means I’m most comfortable flying by the seat of my pants. Plotters have a predetermined path which I find incredibly blah. But in the name of successful seed starting, I temporarily renounce my hair-on-fire ways and embrace a plotter-dom path. Pants on of course!
As a newby, juggling all the suggested indoor sowing dates seems a bit daunting. Exactly how does one keep track? But I came up with a simple system to manage it. I began by sorting packets with similar indoor starting times based on the number of weeks before the average last frost date. You should see a section on the seed packet that reads something like this: “Start seed indoors 6 to 8 weeks before last spring frost date.”
I also included a pile for things like zinnias, sunflowers and nasturtium which will be direct sown, or planted in the garden, after danger of frost. I garden in zone 5b so my estimated date is May 24. But this is not concrete. Mother Nature can be an unpredictable gal. I generally don’t direct sow until the last week of May/first week of June just to be safe. If you’re unsure of your last frost date, enter your zip code here.
Based on your estimated last frost date, begin counting back to find your week markers. For me, counting back from May 24, week 8 is March 29, week 4 April 26. With a black Sharpie, I marked the planting week in the top left corner of each packet and put like with like. This makes it so much easier to know what to sow and when. Simply grab a group of seed packets based on the week and plant them up.
I find lists incredibly helpful (so I guess in some ways I am a plotter in denial). It’s an inherited trait from my mom who’s notorious for keeping grocery lists, chore lists and errand list. I guess I like the feeling of accomplishment as I cross things off. So in that spirit I created a chart to document “When To Start” and “What To Start.” Not only is it a way to organize my growing assortment of seeds, but I can look back and reflect on the menagerie of vegetables that have graced my plot.
If you would like to download a clear copy of my seed starting chart, click here and check out my post on building an inexpensive grow-light rack.
What will you be growing from seed this year?
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