March is the month when you start seeing seed starting products at the big box stores, the garden centers, and social media is overloaded with posts, videos, and everything in between about starting your seeds. Sometimes the information out there can be confusing, so I thought I'd comment on some basic guidelines to keep in mind when it comes to starting your seeds.
1. Success in starting seeds indoors is dependent on light, water, proper seed starting soil, and warmth. All of these factors will help seeds germinate quickly.
2. Seed starting is a great way to get a head start on the growing season. Early seed starting for longer maturing plants, usually warm weather crops, will not only bring in an earlier harvest but you'll have a stronger plant when it's time to plant your seedlings.
3. Seeds to start 6-10 weeks BEFORE the last frost date: tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, petunias, impatiens, marigolds, zinnias, and snapdragons.
4. 4-6 weeks before the last frost date: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and other cool season crops that can tolerate cooler temperatures and mature relatively quickly.
5. 2-4 weeks before the last frost date: herbs, lettuce, and other crops that mature quickly and can be started later in the season. Herbs like dill and parsley in addition to Swiss chard, mustard greens, and Bok choy.
6. Direct sowing seeds outdoors are best for carrots, parsnips, snap peas, spinach, beets, and radishes. They get temperamental when their roots are disturbed, and they can go into the ground 2-4 weeks before the last frost.
7. After the last frost date: you can plant warm season crops like beans, corn, cucumbers, and squash.
8. Outdoor preparation is important for a successful garden. Clearing debris and weeds in addition to adding organic matter as a top dressing to your garden beds or containers will give your plants the proper environment to thrive.
For more seed starting information, check out my video " How to Start Seeds: The Basics and Beyond".