11811933423549d75a2e50d7871ccc0a

Growing plants by starting them from seeds is one way to economically garden.

When living in a climate with freezing temperatures during the winter season, starting seeds requires different techniques. Like plants, some seeds are very easy and some require more patience, many having particular growing needs.

cukeseedlings.jpg

While it may seem antiquated and far too simple, the back of the seed packet remains one of the best reliable sources of accurate planting information for whatever seed one is growing. These how-to-tips are a general overview for gardeners living in regions like the cold north.

Indoor Seed Starting
Plants best started indoors from seed are those that take an extended period of time to germinate, do not like cool soil temperatures, or require the majority of the summer months to mature. For example, vegetable seeds such as tomato, or cucumber or annual flowers like cosmos or zinnia.  
 
Learn the first frost-free date in the garden’s local region, such as in Milwaukee, Wisconsin it is May 20 or Columbus, Ohio May 9. It can vary slightly depending on location so check with your local university extension office for exact information. Use this date to count back the number of days or weeks it will take the seeds to germinate before you are able to transition them outside.
 
beanseeds.jpg
Choose an indoor light location with an east or west facing window or under grow lights to place the pots after planting. Avoid locations with very strong sun or where windows leak cold winter drafts.  
Plant seeds in an extremely light planting medium such as perlite or peat moss. Some gardeners like peat pots or making one’s own pots with biodegradable newspaper. Once the seedlings have grown more than 2” tall and are hardened off, plant directly into the garden.
 
Hardening off before planting outside means allowing transplants to adjust to the outdoor temperatures. Gardeners do this by setting pots outside on days it is warm and brought in before night or on days it is too cold. Many gardeners use a cold frame system for this process.  
 
Planting Seeds Outside
The best plants to start outside are cool season crops such as peas, radishes or types of lettuce. These can be sown directly into the soil as soon as it can be worked. But some, while able to be sown directly outside, still needs warmed soil, such as carrots or the flowering herb calendula.
 
Prepare soil by mixing in organic matter such as compost or peat moss and rake soil level. Remove weed seeds and dead plant debris left from the previous year’s garden.
 
Sow seeds in planting rows at the depth and spacing stated on the seed package. Some seeds grow best in rows a width apart, others are best scattered and covered with a light layer of soil. Thin out to the correct spacing as seedlings appear.
Add a layer of organic mulch around each seedling after they mature. Many gardeners will use shredded pine, loose straw or lawn clippings. This will help retain moisture especially during drought conditions.  
 
chilepepperseedsandseedlings.jpg
 
Variety of Seed Types
Seed appearance varies widely. Some seeds are difficult to germinate or require extra treatments because of the hard shells. One easy to grow annual plant, morning glory, requires soaking overnight.
 
Starting plants from seed offer many benefits no matter where one lives. Many more new plant varieties and heirloom types are available only by seed. For children, planting seeds offers real-life ways to learn science, math and reading while having fun
 
A native of Wisconsin, Chris now makes her home in zone 5 of central Ohio.  She is a member of Garden Writers Association and Perennial Plant Association.  More of Chris' garden musings may be seen at StayGardening.com.

Save

Save


Plant Care Reminders

Trees Kate Copsey

Pruning and Care of Crape Myrtles

Crape myrtles are one of the most beautiful flowering trees in the south.
Camellia Monthly Plant Care
Shrubs Julie Bawden-Davis

Camellia (Camellia spp) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

The Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana)…

208677 Phil Bergman
Queen Palm Care & Use
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads is a family owned and operated business established in 1977

Stag Horn Ferns (Platyceriums) -…

9977 Walter Andersen Nursery
Platycerium Monthly Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Bean - Green (Phaseolus vulgaris) -…

5430 Julie Bawden-Davis
Green Bean Monthly Plant Care - photo by Burpee
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Gardening Articles

Walking Stick

New Pest Walking through the Garden

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a Costa Mesa gardener.
Warm and Cool Season Veggies
Seasonal Gardening Kate Copsey

The New Veggie Season Starts!

Depending on where you are in the south, sometime in April is when the last frost usually occurs.

Christiane Holmquist - Southwest

10899
Christiane Holmquist
Region: Southwest

New FAQ, More Plant Care and Plant Names

6022
Mitch at the Mulch
Our website has so much information being added and updated that I decided to post an…

An Invitation to My Garden

4560
Native Plant Society Meeting
In about an hour I am visiting a friend’s garden in Newport Beach.

Plant Recommendations

Nerium
Plant Recommendations Christiane Holmquist

Container Plants - Southern California

Christiane Holmquist's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Container Plants For Southern California.
Jim Threadgill
Plant Recommendations jim threadgill

Unusual Bulbs - Southern California

Jim Threadgill's Top Plant Recommendations: Favorite Unusual Bulbs for Southern California.

Perennials and Small Shrubs - Southern…

7224 Connie Beck
Asclepias curassavica 'Silky Gold'
Connie Beck's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Perennials and Small Shrubs for Southern…

Vines for Birds & Butterflies -…

6293 Maureen Austin
Mexican Flame Vine
Maureen Austins' Top Plant Recommendations: Favorite Vines for Birds & Butterflies for…

Purple Plants - Southern California

19654 Bill Teague
Heliotropium arborescens 'Fragrant Deligh'
Bill Teague's Top Plant Recommendations: Favorite Purple Plants for Southern California.

Featured Plant Care

Poinsettia tips

Poinsettia Pointers

in Shrubs
Last year, about 41 million poinsettias were sold in the United States.
Heuchera spp Monthly Plant Care

Heuchera (Heuchera spp.) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Amaryllis

The Amaryllis - A Class Act

The poinsettia, the Christmas cactus and paperwhites are lovely holiday blooms, but the…
Zuchinni Monthly Plant Care

Zuchinni Squash - (Cucurbita pepo 'Zucchini') - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Edibles
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Latest Articles

Echeverias roots

How to Slice and Re-root Large Echeverias

Widely known as the “Queen of Succulents,” Debra Lee Baldwin is the award-winning garden…

Plant Care Reminders List of Links

We have monthly regional plant care reminders for many plants. This is a list of links…
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads

Jungle Music Palms, Cycads & Tropical Plants - November Newsletter

Bring the Tropics Indoors! House Plants Bring Your Tropical Passion Indoors! At Jungle…
Join the Mulch and get a bunch of Walking onion bulblets!

Join the Mulch & Get a Free Bunch of Walking Onion Bulblets!

We'd like you to join theMulch and start using all of the great tools we've created to…

Popular Articles

Baseball Field Maintenance

Baseball Field Maintenance - A General Guide for Fields of All Levels

in Lawn
More great baseball field resources can be found here (including a pdf version of this…
Queen Palm Care & Use

The Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) Care & Use

in Trees
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads is a family owned and operated business established in 1977
Microgreens

What are Microgreens and How to Grow Them

in Edibles
Microgreens are tiny leafed vegetables that are grown from seed and require very little…
Kahili Ginger Plant Care

Hedychium gardnerianum (Kahili Ginger) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

User Guides (Slide)

Popular Recommendations (Slide)