Remembering which seeds to start when and whether to start them indoors or outside isn't something that I remember year to year even as a seasoned gardener. It's like one of those pieces of information that get replaced with a different core memory. (Reminiscent of Disney Pixar's Inside Out movie.) That being said, this week's blog post is just as much for me as it is for you. Since the following information is particular to the current year, I'll update this post yearly to reflect the most recent dates. Keep in mind that gardening is often very forgiving and though there is a general rule of thumb for information, timing will vary with each gardener's experience, opinion, and advice. I'm sharing my methods. Feel free to use my photo charts below or you can follow along with the written format and make your own charts with adjustments to fit your needs.
HOW TO SET UP YOUR OWN SEED STARTING CHART (Or use my photo charts for zone 6b):
STEP 1: Find your "last chance of frost" date:
I'm going to get right to it and tell you that for 2023, in zone 6b, our last chance of frost date is MAY 9TH, 2023.
*Pro-Tip: I use First and Last Frost Dates by ZIP Code | The Old Farmer's Almanac You can use the same tool to find the last frost date in your zone.
STEP 2: Count back the weeks one by one.
*Pro-Tip: I choose to start counting my weeks on the closest weekend to the last chance of frost date because I know that I have more time on the weekends to dedicate to sowing seeds. For example, May 9th, this year, is on a Tuesday. I'll slide it back to Sunday, May 7th, and count back each Sunday to determine my weeks.
Here's the cheat sheet for 2023, (remember, my planting days are Sundays)
STEP 3: Determine where your varieties fall into your weekly chart. (Or use mine):
The very first thing I do is, read my seed packets. You can refer to my previous blog on reading seed packets here: Reading Seed Packets: The Absolute Beginner's Guide (sunstonegarden.shop)
If you don't have your seed packets handy or you have seeds that do not come with instructions, there are a few ways to figure out when and how to start those seeds.
Determine if your variety is an annual or perennial.
Determine whether your variety is a cold hardy or warm climate crop.
Determine if your variety grows above or below ground.
Determine if your variety transplants well.
BONUS MATERIAL & MORE PRO TIPS:
In no way is this schedule exhaustive. I tried to include the more commonly planted varieties. I decided to break them down by month instead of weeks because as I mentioned above, gardening is very forgiving. You can start a little early with access to a cold frame, lights, & certain pot size changes. Also, don't fret if you missed a specific week. Nine times out of ten, you can still plant something that you have forgotten. The exception is probably being long season (warm climate crops) and perennial flowers. Speaking of perennial flowers, I have an additional *Pro-Tip: You can choose to winter sow perennial flowers (and other things too) I can cover winter sowing in a later post but for now, here's a good read from the Minnesota State Horticultural Society that I found. Why Winter Sowing Perennials Works (northerngardener.org)
I hope this read was helpful to you. I know it's going to be a staple in my future gardening seasons as I'll update it yearly with current zone 6b frost dates. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. You can also join in on my informal gardening journey on Facebook at (1) Sunstone Garden Groupies | Facebook
Written By: Irisa Green, Owner, and Gardener at Sunstone Garden LLC
Resources are linked within the article.