Spring is in full swing here in the Southern United States!
Every big-box store is rolling out lovely new transplants in biodegradable pots.
The glossy seed packet displays they’ve got up will make anyone eager to plant tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons and more.
Your region’s last frost date may have passed, but that doesn’t mean you can just go crazy planting seeds now.
There’s not one perfect day (or way) to start seeds for your garden.
Some plants do better as transplants in your area, while others are easier to start from seed. There’s even this whole debate on whether you should start your seeds in eggshells–it can get complicated!
Lettuce seeds, for example, don’t always appreciate being transplanted, so direct sowing might be best. Tomatoes, peppers, melons and squashes will germinate much better in warm soil (or with a heated mat under your seed tray–get one here).
You’ll need to figure out the best dates for sewing outside, as well as the dates for planting transplants. The Farmer’s Almanac can help–but you may want something more tailored to your particular location.
In Texas for example, the last frost date can vary by up to three weeks in regions that are less than an hour’s drive away. So if you plant your tomato early, don’t be surprised if a late frost suddenly takes them out!
In order to get local gardening advice in the US, you can check with your local county extension office.
They can put you in touch with Master Gardeners in your area, and they’ll know all sorts of precise advice for your exact region, including the best dates and times to plant everything on your list.
In my opinion, the best thing to do is get hold of a reliable seed starting calendar like this one, and follow its recommendations.
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This link has clickable vegetable planting schedules for each state in the US, straight from the USDA.
Plants are pretty resilient, but you’ll definitely have more fun gardening if you won’t lose half of your seed starts to frost!