Heirloom Seeds Part 4: When To Start Your Seeds

in gardening •  last year 

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This post is the fourth in a series on seeds. In this series we'll cover everything from the importance of seeds, how to save seeds, how to start seeds, correct storage and so much more!

Today we are going to talk about how to calculate the dates for when you should plant your seeds, and the difference between direct sowing and starting seeds indoors.

You can find part 1-3 of this series here:

Heirloom Seeds Part 1: The Importance of Seed Saving & How to Select The Best Seeds

Heirloom Seeds Part 2: SEEDING FEAR | Documentary Short

Heirloom Seeds Part 3: Determining and Using Plant Hardiness Zones

So, you've learned how to select suitable seeds & plants for your garden but WHEN do you plant it all? First lets quickly cover the two main ways to grow garden seeds: starting indoors or direct sowing

Start Indoors

For certain plants that require a lot of time to mature, such as tomatoes, you need to start your seeds indoors to give them a head start. In addition to this, some seeds can be started indoors or they can be directly sown after all chances of frost have passed. This would include cucumbers and squash.

Direct Sow

Some plants do not transplant well and need to be directly sown into the ground. Others grow quickly enough that it is the preferred method (and easiest). Some are cold tolerant and should be planted as soon as the ground can be worked while others are frost sensitive and should be planted after all chances of frost has gone. Plants that are directly sown include: corn, peas, carrots, beets & beans.

Garden Planning

To help me figure out how and when to start all of my seeds, I use a garden planner. The planner tells us when to start our seeds indoors, which ones we can direct sow in the garden and when all of this needs to happen. It is also helpful when trying to determine how much seed to order.

How does it work?

A planner calculates your expected first and last frost dates, the time frame that each time of seed requires to mature, and gives you a starting date. With a planner you'll determine things like:

  • how many weeks before last frost to start your seeds indoors
  • when to direct sow: before or after first frost
  • how many crops you can get in each season through succession planting

The time frame for each particular seed will be written on your seed packet. You can create your own planner using graph paper and spreadsheets, or you can used special gardening software or pre-made spreadsheets and templates that others have created.

Garden Planners

I personally prefer the Grow Veg Garden Planner. This tool remembers my garden measurements as well as all of my previous garden maps, so I can jump right in quickly get started with my plans. It is also useful when mapping out garden rotation and remembering where you had planted everything the year before. All of the documents are printable and I find I need maps in front of me to remember where everything should go. I am not one for fancy tools but this planner has proven to be excellent. Actual gardeners must be behind the making of it! Note: I am mentioning the garden planner because I love it - I have NO affiliation with them.

Here is a list of planners for you to try out.

Grow Veg Garden Planner On-line Garden Tool You can use this free for 7 days but if you want to save your plans from year to year it costs: One Year Subscription: $29 (£19 / €27 / AU$39

Seed Starting Spreadsheet by The Lazy Gardener

Seeds of Generations Quick Garden Planning Calculator

Johnny Seeds Quick Calculator


[@walkerland ]
Building a greener, more beautiful world one seed at a time.
Homesteading | Gardening | Frugal Living | Preserving Food| From Scratch Cooking|

You can also find me at: walkerland.ca

Photo copyright: @walkerland

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Thanks for another great post! Have you heard of Tend)? It's an all-new crop management software system from the States (or Canada?). Jean-Martin Fortier was plugging it so I decided to have a look and propose myself as a beta user but they told me they are only interested in users from North America so I didn't look any further. Anyway, it might be of interest to you...

Thanks for the link to Tend. I had not heard of it. I think it might be too business centric for me right now but if I ever figure out how to be an organic garlic tycoon (one of my dreams) this would be perfect. I think will contact them to see if I can have a peek around the software. Their blog is really informative too! Great resource thank you.

You can actually use most the features on the website if you create a login username and password. They only two things stopping me from diving in are the facts that everything is in imperial (not much good to me here in Japan), and the location software doesn't allow for odd-numbered beds in a field... Anyway, I'm still trying to make my own system, throwing together the best of Curtis Stone, Jean-Martin Fortier and others, but it's not easy..!

I have been really enjoying this series with heirloom seeds and saving seeds. Always so much great information!

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Thank you @goldendawne! ❀

This is so good. You have a new follower in me. Keep up the amazing blogs. You are doing great

Thank you! Following you too.

Good job. This article will benefit many people. How the seedling is planted, how the seeds are grown. Thank you for taking the opportunity to know everyone.

wow, I really love gardening, what is that plant?
Follow me @munizarjuve

I am loving this series of posts. I don't plant anything but heritage seeds. I want unaltered food.

  ·  last year (edited)

the variety ...it's just like a dream come true. I grew up where all of the food was trucked in from afar and the vegetables were really not very flavourful. I started growing food (zone 0 if you would believe it) ) in the summer just using the starts from the garden centre (a big improvement) and then I discovered heirloom seeds and my whole understanding of food and flavours changed forever.

I hear you! Definitely very different.

Thank you for contributing your knowledge to help others! The Sotall Community has linked to your post here.. If you write any future articles with instructions on how to do any tasks related to a homestead or survival, to ensure they are added to the directory, please submit them. They will be added as soon as possible.

i pulled out my planner book, have gone through my seeds and am feeling so optimistic about this growing season!!!

me too!! I am so eager to get started. It's going to be a great year!

Thanks for the informative post! Can't wait to get out there in the garden, come on spring!

Only 36 days until spring !!