When to Start Seeds Indoors

I just got my order of Baker Creek seed and I'm excited and anxious to get these seeds going.

But that's not the best idea right now.

Knowing the best time when to start your seeds indoors

can make the difference between success

and possible failure.

Hi, I'm Gardener Scott.

And today is the day that I determine my planting calendar for seeds, both indoors and outdoors.

And though it's relatively simple,

it does require a little bit of work, because, I ordered a lot of seeds this year,

this is just a portion of them,

and knowing when to put these seeds in soil

really does make a difference.

You can't start everything at the same time.

The seed packet gives a lot of information, but for example,

here's a pepper.

And it tells me to start indoors 8 to 12 weeks before the last frost date.

Here's a different pepper. It says to start seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks

before the last frost date.

Here's a broccoli. It says sow very early

indoors or direct seed outdoors 2 to 4 weeks ahead of the last frost date.

Here's a tomato that says start indoors 6 to 10 weeks

before the last frost date.

You can already see that I'm not going to be able to start my seeds all at the same time on

the same day.

And it's dependent on

the last frost date.

If you don't understand the last frost date, you can check out this video where I explain just exactly what that means.

I'll be using May 15th

as my last frost date and I'll show you exactly how that ties in

with the starting

of all of these seeds.

To begin, let's quickly discuss

why we're starting seeds indoors and then that we'll tie in to the when we start seeds indoors.

The why is simply to get a head start

on the growing season. Depending on where you garden your season might not be long enough

to put a pepper seed in the ground

and let it reach maturity and harvest. The same with tomatoes.

I don't have a long enough growing season.

So the only way I can get peppers and tomatoes is to put a plant

in the ground shortly after that last frost date. I can't put a seed.

But I can save a lot of money by buying the seeds

and starting them indoors to create those plants that I will end up putting outside.

And so what kind of plants lend themselves best to starting indoors?

Well, typically it's the warm season plants.

It's those plants that can't handle any cold conditions close to freezing,

like the peppers and

the tomatoes

and even squash and pumpkins.

Those plants that need warm weather and that often need a long growing season

are typically the kind of plants that you'll be starting indoors.

The cool season plants: the lettuce, the kale, the broccoli.

Those you could go either way. Most often, like I read from the broccoli package,

you can start those seeds outdoors

even when it's cold, before the last frost date.

But you might be able to get the same type of head start if you start them indoors.

And I'll be doing some of that with some of those cool season plants.

There are also plants that you really shouldn't start ahead of time indoors.

Generally speaking, they're the plants that do best when sown outside.

Root vegetables,

generally speaking, you shouldn't start those indoors. If you start a carrot and then put it outside,

it will not grow straight and you won't have

success with it. I have started beets inside and they've done okay outside.

But they do so well when direct sown in the garden that it's really not necessary.

Especially when you can do it when it's still cold outside.

Turnips, rutabagas, yeah, don't even worry about starting them inside. Just go straight outside.

There are also many plants that don't like to be transplanted,

and generally, grow so quickly, it's not necessary. Plants like peas and beans are best sown

directly in the garden. Now, if you have a very short growing season,

yes, you can start them ahead of time and then transplant them.

But generally it's not necessary for most gardeners because they grow so quickly.

There are plants like corn.

Don't even bother growing those ahead of time as well. Just put them directly

into the garden. And so next I'll show you a list of the plants that are most often grown by gardeners in a vegetable

garden and I'll break them into those categories: the ones that you should definitely

start indoors, those that you shouldn't start indoors, and then the others where it's

totally up to you as to whether you start early or direct sow.

So here you have a list of the most common plants that

you'll probably be growing in your garden and an idea of whether to start them indoors

or out or possibly both.

The plants that are in the definitely start indoors category

generally have a pretty

long growing season.

It will take a long time

from seed to harvest.

So that's why they're on this list. You'll also notice that most of these are also

warm season plants.

The plants like eggplants and the ground cherry, which I'll be growing this year, and all the rest down here

can't handle any cold at all and that's why you need to start them indoors. A plant like leek

takes a long time to grow to the full size for harvest.

It can handle cold weather,

but I find it better to start it indoors and then transplant it after it's got a little bit of size to it.

These plants you may notice that there are a lot of cool season plants on this list.

Which is why you can do it inside or outside. It really comes down to

your climate, your hardiness zone and the length of your growing season.

Do you have enough time for onions to grow from seed

until you harvest? If you want a bulb

you might want to start the onion

inside and then transplant it out when it's the size of a start that you would buy at your

nursery or garden center. The plants like the broccoli and the cauliflower,

along with the cabbage, take a long time to fully form.

So if you can get a head start on the season by doing them indoors,

definitely take advantage of that. But if you've got a long growing season,

then all of these can be started from seed outside.

The same with these down here a lot of it really depends on the length of your growing season.

All of these plants do not transplant

very well at all. So I would only recommending starting these if you have a very short

gardening season. And even if you do start these this is what

I typically would recommend... you start in a peat pot or

a newspaper pot or something that you could put directly in the ground so that you don't disturb the roots

at transplant. And then I've already talked about a number of these on this side.

These are plants that you should only start outside for best results and one of those

is potato. You might notice that the potato,

the eggplant,

the tomato. They all belong to the same family and while these can be started ahead of time,

potatoes don't work well. They need to go directly in the ground. And even though it's not technically a root that we're eating,

you should treat it just as though it was a root crop.

Okay, so now, you know which plants are best to start

Indoors and you have an idea of some of the ones that I'm planning on starting. How about you?

Which ones are you planning on starting this year? Let me know in the comments below.

I'd really liked to hear it. And if you got any questions about that, let me know. The next step is to actually

determine the exact date,

give or take a few days, as to when I'm going to start all of those individual seeds indoors.

Of all of the plants on that list, these are the ones that I'm planning on starting indoors.

So to get an idea of

when to start these seeds,

I'll look at the seed package.

So for the ground cherries, I look on the back and it says

start indoors 4 to 8 weeks. So ground cherries are 4 to 8 weeks.

Let's call that an average of 6.

The leeks

say to start seeds

several weeks before setting out.

So let's say that we want to give them a five week head start. It also says to set the

transplants out two to four weeks before the last spring frost.

So if we take our five week headstart, an average of three weeks,

let's call that eight weeks is when we're going to start these.

The onions that I'll be starting it says seed, or sow seed indoors in late winter.

Again, not an exact date, but I want about a five week head start on these.

I'm growing a number of different peppers. This pepper says eight to twelve weeks. This says eight to ten weeks.

So let's call it

an average of ten weeks. And then I'm also growing a number of different tomatoes,

but they all say six to ten weeks.

So the tomatoes are six to ten weeks with an average of

eight weeks.

I want to grow a lot of basil and basil is one of those herbs that you can actually

start indoors as it says on the seed package. This says six weeks before

transplanting to the garden. I want to make sure the soil is very

warm so it's six weeks before I put it outside.

But for me, that will be four weeks

before the last frost date, because I'll give myself an extra two weeks before I actually put them outside.

And then gourds weren't on my original list because a lot of gardeners don't grow them.

But I want to grow birdhouse gourds and I'll also loofah gourds and they take a long time

to grow.

On the back

it doesn't say anything about starting them inside.

So these fall into that same category as the cucumbers and the melons and the pumpkins.

I'm only going to start these three weeks before

the last frost date and I'll also put them outside after the soil is nice and warm.

So what do I do with these numbers?

Now we'll actually move to the calendar and these are the numbers that will determine

when I set a date for starting these seeds indoors.

Now I have my calendar out and I'm ready to actually write on the calendar the specific date

for starting each of those seeds. I've got the 15th of May, my last frost date,

starred and circled and this is the date that I will work

back from

for all of those seeds. So the closest seed on my list,

and here's a reminder,

will be the gourd. It's three weeks before the last frost date.

Then it'll be basil at four weeks, onion at five weeks, the ground cherry at six weeks,

the leeks at eight, the tomatoes at eight and the peppers at ten.

So starting from this date, I'll move back

three weeks for the gourd. So there's one week, there's two weeks,

and there's three weeks. So on the 24th of April,

I plan to do my gourds. Now I go back to the fourth week.

This is when I'm doing my basil.

Now I go back to the fifth week. This is when I'm doing my onions. I go back to the sixth week

and this is the ground cherries.

I move into the month of March.

This is the seventh week. This is the eighth week.

So actually on the very first day of spring is when I will start

my leeks

and my tomatoes.

And then moving back two more weeks to March sixth. This is when I'll begin

my peppers.

Now remember, for each of these weeks, I took an average.

So peppers are eight to twelve weeks and this is

the 10-week point. So if I've got something coming up on March 6th,

I don't have to put those seeds in soil exactly on March 6th.

I've got a lot of leeway in this week, in the previous week,

or in the week after. This is just my target.

So, all things being equal,

this is the date that I will start my peppers. And then I'll move forward on the calendar

until I get to my last frost date.

And at that point I'll have plants that

will have grown all of these many weeks inside,

under the lights,

and this is the general time frame that I'm looking to put those plants in the ground.

The hardest part about starting seeds indoors

is coming up with that plan of when to start seeds indoors.

And I've got my calendar filled out all ready to go and I have a plan. If you want more gardening information,

then please subscribe to the Gardener Scott channel.

If you have any comments or questions,

please let me know below. If you liked the video,

you can give me a thumbs up and you can share it. I'm Gardener Scott.

Enjoy gardening.