If you’re reading this, you may be trying to figure out when to start seeds for your outdoor garden. Sowing from seed requires a basic understanding of the climate in your region. The foundation of a strong gardener comes from this knowledge. Learning about the final frost date in your region is the first step on that journey.
Your “final frost date” is the final predicted day in which your area will reach freezing temps and frost overnight. Following this date, the likelihood the ground will once again freeze (and potentially damage young plants) diminishes significantly.
Dependent on your zone and overall sun coverage, we generally recommend starting from seed 3-6 weeks prior to your final frost date in a controlled environment. Then, plan to transplant young, homegrown plants to their forever home after the final frost.
Prior to placing your transplants, till in nutrients fit for your plants and locality into your gardening beds. When placing your seedlings in the space of your choice, be sure to map out and space your varietals properly. (Click here for a printable version)
Don’t forget vining plants will need extra space between sprouts to be allowed to flower and fruit properly. Root vegetables like carrots and potatoes also require extra space to spread out.
And while we all wish we could grow the entire produce section in our own backyards, not all growing zones are suitable to sustain all plants. Some climates are better situated to grow fruits (think your tropical, balmy locales), while others specialize in heartier vegetables or “cold crops” that can be sewn earlier in the growing season and again once more in the middle. Be mindful of your area’s limits, for the best chance at success. Then try a new seed type or two per season as a somewhat experimental growing process.
Don’t forget, some regions have a shorter outdoor growing season than others, and it can take time to perfect your growing schedule and overall layout. Consider keeping a gardening notebook with your dates and significant weather to best track backyard weather trends.
Reference the Farmer’s Almanac for even more detailed regional tips. With recommendations on when to sow, what to plant, and exact time frames in which to harvest, this trusted industry source has the most science-forward tips backed by generations of growers private and professional. Check them out here.