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Seed Starting, When Should You Start Anyway?

by | Feb 24, 2012

This is for sure one of the most exciting times of the year, preparing to seed start. The anticipation and excitement are almost too much!

For the past month, we have been gathering all the needed supplies and seeds which is pretty major for use because of the sheer number of plants we start. We have almost everything now, all just waiting for the right time to come to start.

When do you start anyway? Not to get off of the subject but there are seeds to start almost at any time for anywhere in the world– there are warm season seeds (the most well-known) and there are cold hardy seeds.

The warm season seeds are those that grow during the traditional warm season including all those we are dreaming about now, tomatoes, zinnias, squash, sunflowers, etc.

The cold hardy seeds are those that like cooler temperatures and are often planted in the fall. They winter over beautifully to perform in early spring after becoming well-established over the winter. Some of these are lettuces, snapdragons, spinach, cabbages, and sweet william.

So, back to when to start. This season is coming upon us to start those warm season seeds (tomatoes, sunflowers, etc,). But beware, don’t start too early! One of the most frustrating struggles I hear folks have when starting indoors is how big and unmanageable the plants got before they could plant outdoors. This is simply because, in our excitement to get started, we start too soon. This leads to an unhealthy, tall, lanky plant that will not perform and produce like a younger healthier plant.

Solution: get excited and get outdoors and prepare for spring doing chores (weeding, mulching adding compost, etc) and wait on seed starting to the correct time. The correct time for us is later than most seed starters because we use the soil blocking method that really accelerates plant growth because of the healthy environment they are in. We start tomatoes 4-5 weeks before planting out, and zinnias 2-3 weeks.

We offer a transplant guide that gives how many weeks before planting out you should start flowers, keeping in mind we use soil blocking. For vegetables, you will have to do a little research. There are many charts out offering suggested weeks to grow before planting out.

The important tip here is to start later than earlier for a healthy plant to transplant outdoors.


Lisa Mason Ziegler founder of The Gardener’s Workshop and Flower Farming School Online. Award-winning Author of Vegetables Love Flowers, and Cool Flowers. Watch Lisa’s Story and view her blog Field & Garden. Connect with Lisa on Facebook  and Instagram!