Figuring out when to start seeds indoors is difficult, especially when you’re a new gardener. In this post I will show you exactly how to figure out when to begin, and also help you create your own personalized seed planting schedule.
When should you start seeds indoors? This is one of the most common questions I get from new gardeners.
There are lots of different planting charts out there, and they can be helpful to use as a guide. But, there are so many factors involved, that it’s best to create your own personal timetable.
Don’t worry, it’s not difficult to do, and I’ll walk you through it all step by step. Once you learn exactly when to start planting seeds indoors, the timing will become second nature to you!
Here’s what you’ll find in this detailed guide…
Why Do We Need A Seed Starting Timetable?
Timing is very important when it comes to starting seeds indoors. That’s because if you do it too early, you could end up with weak, leggy seedlings that won’t survive the transition to the garden.
But if you start too late, they won’t be mature enough for transplanting into the garden by spring.
It takes a little practice, but in time you will be able to create your own seed planting schedule so you know exactly when to start each variety. Let’s walk through the steps together…
Figuring Out When To Start Seeds Indoors
The biggest problem with figuring out what to plant when is that every seed is different.
Some are fast growers, and it will only take a few weeks for them to get large enough to be planted into the garden. But others are very slow to germinate, and it takes much longer for them to mature.
Plus, every growing zone has different planting dates. There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” seed starting chart.
So how can you figure out the best planting dates for YOUR seeds?
Finding Your Best Indoor Planting Dates
Since every seed is different, and some have special planting instructions, we need to rely on the packets for help.
Unfortunately, many companies give us very vague details (or no instructions at all), which is super annoying.
But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. If you’re just starting out, you can follow these simple guidelines to figure out a basic timetable…
Step 1: Find the dates on the packet – First, read the instructions on each of the packets. Most will give you recommended planting dates for when to start seeds indoors.
Generally, it will be something like “4 to 6 weeks before average last frost”, or “6 to 8 weeks…” etc.
Step 2: Sort your packets by best planting dates – Take all of the ones you plan to start indoors, and sort them by the recommended planting dates shown on the packet.
Step 3: Store them by date – Once you have all everything sorted into piles, store them like that. That way, you’ll always know which ones to plant at the same time.
But wait… what if your seed packets don’t have any recommended planting dates on them?
General Guidelines For When To Plant Seeds Indoors
Unfortunately, not all companies include seed starting dates on the packets for you (maybe they like to keep us guessing?).
So if yours doesn’t have the recommended planting dates, then here are a few basic guidelines you can follow to figure it out.
In general, you should start seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the average last frost date in your area.
For example, our average last frost date here in growing zone 4b (Minneapolis, MN) is May 15th.
So, I would count backwards 6 to 8 weeks (which would be March 20th – April 3rd), and that’s when I would start planting my seeds indoors.
The average last frost date is different for each growing zone. If you don’t know what yours is, ask a local garden center, or look it up online.
Related Post: 17 Easiest Seeds To Start Indoors
How To Create Your Own Seed Planting Schedule
Once you figure out when to start each type of seed indoors, then you can work to create your own planting schedule to use year after year.
Keep track of the dates you planted each type, and make a note of when they began to germinate. You should also keep a record of how well each variety performed.
Did the seedlings grow long and leggy before you could move them outside? Did they outgrow their containers too quickly? Or maybe they were too small to plant into the garden in the spring.
Write it all down.
This will give you a good start on your custom planting schedule. Then next year you can make the necessary adjustments.
If any of them grew too large or became too leggy before you were able to move them outside, you should start them indoors a week or two later next year.
On the other hand, seedlings that were too small to transplant into the garden should be started a couple weeks earlier next year.
Once you get the hang of knowing when to plant seeds indoors, you will have your own customized planting schedule to go by year after year.
Also, you’ll begin to see patterns for certain types of vegetables and flowers, and know which ones to plant at the same time. This will make it even easier for you.
Related Post: Tips For Starting Seeds Indoors For Beginners
Determining exactly when to start seeds indoors is difficult for newbies. Following the steps above will help you get it right every time, and have a personalized indoor seed planting timetable that you can use year after year.
If you need more, and you want to learn all there is to know about easily growing all of your own seeds, then my online Seed Starting Course is exactly what you need! This self-paced, comprehensive online course will walk you through every detail, step-by-step. Enroll and get started today!
Otherwise, if you just want a refresher about how to begin, then my Starting Seeds Indoors eBook would be perfect! It’s a quick-start guide that will have you up and running in no time.
More Information About Growing Seeds
- Seed Starting Equipment and Supplies
- How To Test The Viability Of Seeds With An Easy Seed Germination Test
- Peat Pellets Vs. Seedling Soil: Which Should You Use And Why?
- How To Make Your Own DIY Seed Starting Mix (with recipe!)
Share your experiences and tips for when to start seeds indoors in the comments section below.