Hopefully you have your seed packets in hand, or will shortly. I’m sure you’re itching to get starting with our community container garden project. I know I am! The first thing to do–obviously–is to get those seeds in some seed starting potting mix and get started!
(If you haven’t purchased your seeds yet, don’t forget that you can get 10% off if you buy them from aHa Modern Living when you use the code LOTBseeds.)
It’s important to start your seeds indoors at the right time, so that they’ll have their best shot when they move outside. To calculate when it is time to sow them, you need to know when you can last expect frost. If you don’t already know, this is a handy list of last frost dates. Once you have that date, look on the seed packet to find out how many weeks before your last frost date you should begin. Simply count backwards from your last frost date that amount, and sow your seeds roughly around that time.
Now, for some of us, our last frost date has already past. If you want, you can try sowing your seeds outdoors. However, I would advise against it. Many seeds need warmth–not just lack of freezing temperatures–to germinate. Even though my area’s last frost technically passed in mid-February, I’m still going to start my seeds indoors and wait to move them outside for at least a month. Larger plants are better able to deal with temperature fluctuations, wind, and even a little insect damage.
Basil: Start your basil indoors 6 weeks before your last frost date. If your last frost date is less than six weeks away, it’s still okay to start them indoors, they are fast growers and will have plenty of time to mature outside. About 4 weeks after you start your first basil seeds, sow a second batch in new pots inside. That way you’ll be able to harvest your first plants and then pop the new plant in their place for a second harvest later in the season.
Chives: Start chives 6 weeks before your last frost. Be sure to cover seeds with about 1/4 of soil, as they need darkness to germinate. Also, chive seeds don’t last very long, so be sure you’re using seeds packed for this year (and not an old packet from last year). If your last frost has already past, consider sowing them directly in their final pot outdoors.
Cucumbers: Start your cukes 4 weeks before your last frost date. Or, if it’s just easier to start all your plants at once, you can start them 6 weeks before your last frost date with all the other plants (except the sunflowers).
Sunflowers: Wait to sow these guys directly in their final destination after your last frost. Don’t start them indoors.
Tomatoes: Start tomato seeds indoors about 6 weeks before your last frost date. For some of you, your last frost date may be less than 6 weeks away. It’s still perfectly cool to start your tomatoes now. Often times it is still pretty chilly outside even after your last frost, and your tomatoes will appreciate the extra time inside.
Need more help getting your seeds started? Ask away in the LOTB Community Forum.
Here are some of the interesting conversations going on in the forum:
- What gardening journal software do you use and recommend?
- How should seeds be stored?
- Do you have any suggestions for roses that can be grown in containers and produce hips?