Seed Starting Schedule

I spent a day going through my seed packets and separated out the ones that I plan to start inside. Here in south-central Pennsylvania, the frost-free date is around the middle of May so that’s the date I’m using to plan the planting schedule.

Just this past week I planted some broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and endive. The broccoli and cabbage need 6 weeks to be ready to plant outside. Since they can take some frost, mid-April is a safe planting time. The lettuce and endive don’t take as long to grow. I know I’m pushing it a little bit with the greens, but if they survive outside in early April, there’ll be an early harvest; if not, it’s only the loss of a few seeds. I’m willing to gamble and see what happens. Besides, I’ll be planting a few more lettuce seeds every 2-3 weeks in order to have a steady supply of it during the spring and early summer.

I also recently started some hollyhocks. There’s a new variety that I tried last year called Spring Celebrities. It’s a dwarf hollyhock that only grows to about 3’ in height. Most hollyhocks are biennial, meaning that if you sow the seeds this year, the plant won’t flower until next year. The nice thing about Spring Celebrities is that if you start the seeds inside 8 weeks before planting in the garden (early May), you can treat the plants as an annual and they will blossom this year. Last year only Park Seeds offered this variety. This year, most of the seed catalogues had them for sale so they must be catching on with gardeners.

In the middle of March I plan to sow peppers and eggplants. They need about 8 weeks to be ready to plant and I won’t plant them outside until it has warmed up and there is no chance of frost. In mid March I also have some angel trumpet (Datura) seeds to plant that I’ll be growing in pots around the pool. I’ve never grown them before so this will be an experiment.

Early April I’ll be pulling out the tomato and marigold seeds. Both of these grow quickly so I know six weeks will be enough time for them. Also, I’m not one who wants huge tomato plants. Smaller plants grow well for me and I’m happy with tomatoes that start producing in late July.

In mid April I have a packet of zinnias and one of amaranthus (summer poinsettia) which I’ll start. I could sow these directly into the garden but I find it easier with most flowers to start them inside and to plant the small plants into the garden after the risk of frost is over.

It’s nice to know that all of the seeds I need for indoor planting are organized and in one place. Now I just need to plant them when the time is right.

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