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When can you plant seeds?
This is a common question for gardeners!
You can figure out when to plant seeds by knowing your spring frost dates and sowing seeds accordingly.
Once you know your frost dates which we’ll discuss in this post, you can count back the weeks for when you sow your seeds or transplant your seedlings into the garden. If you need help with seed starting be sure to read my seed starting 101 beginner guide.
It all starts with the seed.
Watching it germinate, watching it grow, and watching that plant become a wonderful harvest. Gardening is amazing!
Here’s a rough guideline of when to plant seeds, either by direct sowing or transplanting.
It’s always good to double check your seed packet though, as each variety will be different. Also keep in mind seed age, quality (if they were stored properly) and vigor will all change how long it takes for your seeds to sprout and grow.
First you will need to know your frost dates. You can look them up here.
When to plant seeds
Once you know your frost dates keep them in mind and count back the weeks to that date.
Your frost date is an approximate time frame of when you can sow your seeds.
Every gardening season will be different, some years the frosts end or come sooner than others. I also often gamble my frost dates with cool season crops because some crops can handle frosts.
Cool Season Crops to Direct Seed Before Last Frost:
- 6-8 weeks: arugula, mache, spinach
- 4-6 weeks: peas, radishes, claytonia,
- 3-5 weeks: lettuce, green onions/scallions, radishes, swiss chard, turnips,
- 3-4 weeks: broccoli, broccoli raab, cabbage, brussel sprouts, collards, kale, mizuna, mustards, bok/pak choi,
- 2-4 weeks: carrots, mibuna, parsnips, plant potatoes, tatsoi
- 1-2 weeks: endive, rutabagas
Cool season crops to Direct Seed WITH season extenders (cold frames, hoop tunnels, greenhouse, etc)
- 8-10 weeks: arugula, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, mache, green onions/scallions, spinach, swiss chard,
- 6-8 weeks: broccoli, claytonia, collards, endive, kale, kohl rabi, mizuna, mustards, bok/pak choi, radishes, tatsoi, turnips
- 4-6 weeks: any of the above veggies.
- 2-4 weeks: cauliflower (needs frost protection, there’s the odd variety that can handle cold temps).
Direct Seed AFTER last frost (warm season crops)
1 week after: Beans, corn.
When should you start growing your Transplants?
- 10-12 weeks before last frost: Leeks, onions, celery, celeriac, perennial herbs like oregano, savory, thyme…
- 6-8 weeks: Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, Brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, kohl rabi etc)
- 4-5 weeks: Basil, watermelons/melons
- 2-3 weeks: Summer and winter squash, cucumbers
- 1 week before: Sweet corn
- 1-2 weeks after: fall brassicas going into the ground in June
- 2+weeks: if you plant a fall /winter garden back date from time you need to be transplanting.
When is it safe to Transplant?
- 4-5 weeks before last frost: onion transplants
- 3-4 weeks before last frost: broccoli, leeks, lettuce, mustards
- 2-3 weeks before last frost: cauliflower (needs protection), celery, celeriac, kale, kohl rabi, bok/pak choi
- 1- 2 weeks before last frost: cucumbers*, melons*, peppers*, zucchini*, tomatoes*
- (*this is risky so you definitely NEED frost protection. Eg. Greenhouse, polytunnel, frost fabric..)
Transplant 1 week after last frost:
Eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, melons, peppers, zucchini/summer squash, sweet potatoes, winter squash
Some Seed Starting Tips from Fix.com
Source: Fix.com Blog
Source: Fix.com Blog
My name is Isis Loran, creator of the Family Food Garden. I’ve been gardening for over 10 years now and push the limits of our zone 5 climates. I love growing heirlooms & experimenting with hundreds of varieties, season extending, crunchy homesteading and permaculture.