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Know When to Sow – 3 Quick Steps

Posted on: January 25th, 2014 by Judy 2 Comments

Timing is Everything

I love this time of year! Eager gardeners dream about the season ahead and make choices about what to grow. This time of year my conversations with our gardening community contain lots of question about when to sow seeds and how to find that information. I’m always glad to hear people ask these questions because the right timing is where your garden gets a successful start. Many gardeners need to start some things indoors like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and celery because their season is too short to sow these varieties directly into their gardens. But, this information is useful for every seed gardener, whether they start indoors or directly in the garden.  The explanation is pretty simple and, thankfully, a short one. Three quick steps will get you sowing at just the right time and growing the best garden possible.

Step 1: Identify your Average Last Frost Date

Check this map as a guide for your average last frost date. We use this date because it helps us approximate conditions like air and soil temperature that are necessary for successful seed starting. Remember this date, you’ll need it for step 3.

Average Last Frost Date Click to enlarge

Step 2: Check your packet

Every Botanical Interests seed packet tells you the right time and place to start your seeds. It is on the bottom half of the back of every packet. Note the recommended time and place to start your seeds and move to step 3.

Step 3: Count on the calendar

Identify Average Last Frost date on the calendar and count forwards or backwards the number of weeks indicated on the packet. That’s the time to start your seeds! Pretty simple, huh?

Here’s a quick example:

  1. My frost date is about May 15th according to the map.
  2. The tomatoes that I want to start inside for a head start say they should be started 6-8 weeks before Average Last Frost.
  3. When I count back on the calendar from May 15th, I arrive at  March 20th – April 3rd.

That’s when I start, simple as that. I get transplants that are large enough to stand on their own but not so large that it takes a long time to harden them off. I hope this helps. If you have questions, just ask. Let’s get growing!

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