It’s FINALLY time to start getting serious about the garden! For us, that means getting ready to start all of our vegetable seeds indoors, and more importantly, timing the process so that our plants are ready for the big garden at the right time.

Starting Seeds – The “Counting Back” Method

For many of the typical vegetable plants (i.e. tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc.) – a good rule of thumb is to start seeds indoors about 6 to 8 weeks before your projected outdoor planting day.

Last years tomato plants reaching for the lights
Last years tomato plants reaching for the lights

That time period will give the seeds plenty of opportunity to germinate and grow under the lights – with still a week or two to harden them off on a porch or protected area outside before planting. Any longer than 8 weeks – and you run the risk of your seedlings outgrowing their container space and becoming weak and root-bound.  (see: How To Easily Start Seeds Indoors)  and How To Build A Table Top Seed Starting Stand

Over the last 3 years, we have put the majority of our main garden plants (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, et.c) in the ground around the 15th of May.  And for the last three years – we have also had to cover them somewhere between the 15th and 30th due to a frost or at the very least, the threat of one!

We hope to avoid this scene this year - protecting the garden from an early season frost!
We hope to avoid this scene this year – protecting the garden from an early season frost!

Covering up all of our plants is a tedious and labor intensive project – and one we really don’t want to repeat for a fourth consecutive year. This year, we are moving back our main garden planting day a few weeks to around the 30th of May – hoping that the extra two weeks will eliminate the frost concerns.

Using the 8 week count back method – we will start the majority of our crops (tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, green and red pepper plants, etc.) at the end of March.  

However, when it comes to our hot peppers and ornamental pepper plants – they can take almost twice as long to germinate (up to 28 days compared to around 14 for traditional plants) as other veggie seeds.

With that in mind, those seeds will be put into the trays today – marking the start of our gardening season!

Happy Gardening!

Jim and Mary

Preparing For Garden Season – Choosing The Right Time To Start Seeds Indoors