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When To Start Seeds (Indoor or Outdoor)

Are you wondering when to start seeds? At Secret Life of Homesteaders, we understand that no matter what time of year it is, starting seeds is always a hot topic among homesteaders.

Some folks like to start their seeds indoors, while others opt for starting them outdoors.

So when is the best time to start seeds? Well, that depends on your specific situation! Keep reading to learn more about when to start seeds and find the perfect timing for you.

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picture of seeds being started in black pods answering the question of when to start seeds

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    Specific Guides on Starting Seeds

    There is a lot to keep in mind when starting a garden and knowing when to start seeds is part of the process.

    While each plant is different and requires different attention, in general, you will want to plant your seeds and seedlings after the danger of the last frost is gone.

    Keep your plants and seeds watered and protected from harsh weather and pests.

    Don’t fret if things go wrong and you have to try again. Gardening is hard for lots of people and there is a lot of trial and error that goes along with starting a garden.

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    To help you on your gardening journey, here are some of our specialized guides on when and how to start seeds.

    Starting Seeds Indoors – When And What?

    When you start your seeds indoors, you will want to make sure your seeds are mature enough to plant outdoors after the last frost has passed and the soil is starting to warm up. Planting dates, or the specific number of weeks you will need to accomplish, this will be determined by each specific plant variety.

    For example, herbs and veggies with a shorter growing season, such as pepper and tomato seeds, should be started inside around six to eight weeks before the last frost date. Other plants with a longer growing season, such as beans and peas, merely need to be soaked indoors for a day or two before being transplanted outdoors.

    For best results, it is best to research each individual plant in relation to your growing zone. But in general, there are a few seed starting rules you can follow, and we’ll go over those in this article.

    Read – When To Start Seeds Indoors Zone 6

    Indoor seed starting can give seeds a head start, and this is particularly useful when you live in a colder region with a shorter growing season, or you are planting warm-weather seeds. Read on to learn when to sow seeds outdoors!

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    Which Seeds Do Best When Planted At Which Time? (Outdoor Planting)

    Most plants that you will be adding to your herb or vegetable garden fall into a hardiness category. These categories will help you determine when to plant your seeds.

    Remember, planting time and planting schedule will vary depending on your specific growing zone so be sure to look that up.

    Hardy Group

    Plant these seeds as soon as the soil is dry enough to work and manipulate. Another telltale sign is when apple buds begin to swell.

    For most growing zones in the Northern Hemisphere, this is between March 15 and May 15.

    Plants that fall into the hardy group: (not a conclusive list)

    • Broccoli
    • Cabbage
    • Kohlrabi
    • Peas
    • Radishes
    • Onions
    • Spinach
    • Turnips

    Semi-Hardy Group

    Some seeds are not as hardy as others. When planting semi-hardy plants, you will want to plant them a week or two after the hardy group. This is usually around the time apple buds are in tight clusters.

    For most regions in the Northern Hemisphere, this will be between March 20 and July 1.

    Plants that fall into the semi-hardy group: (not a conclusive list)

    • Beets
    • Carrots
    • Lettuce
    • Parsley
    • Parsnip
    • Kale
    • Swiss Chard
    • Strawberries
    • Chives
    • Dill
    • Dandelions
    • Hyssop
    a hand dumping seeds into the dirt answering the question when to start seeds

    Tender Group

    Tender plants are a little more fragile than the hardy and semi-hardy plants and therefore more care must be taken.

    Plant these tender plants around the day of the last Spring frost, or when the apple blossoms have begun to open. For most regions in the Northern Hemisphere, this will be between May 5 and July 1.

    Plants that fall into the tender group: (not a conclusive list)

    • Beans (pole, bush, shelling)
    • Sweet corn
    • Cucumbers
    • Summer squash
    • Basil
    • Cilantro
    • Oregano
    • Sage
    • Thyme
    • Borage
    • Calendula
    • Echinacea
    • Fenugreek
    • Lemon balm
    • Lovage
    • Yarrow

    Very Tender Group

    Plants in the very tender group need the utmost care to ensure survival. These plants should be planted about two weeks after those in the tender group, or when there are little green apples on the apple trees.

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    For most regions in the Northern Hemisphere, this will be between May 20 and June 10.

    Plants that fall into the very tender group: (not a conclusive list)

    • Eggplant
    • Melons (cantaloupe, canary, casaba, crenshaw, hondydew)
    • Okra
    • Pumpkins
    • Peppers (hot and sweet)
    • Winter squash
    • Tomatoes (cherry, pear, slicing)
    • Tomatillos
    • Watermelon

    Fall Plantings

    Did you know that many plants do well when planted in the fall?

    You can enjoy a second harvest with the following plants: (not a conclusive list)

    • Beets
    • Cabbage
    • Lettuce
    • Onions
    • Peas
    • Spinach
    • Turnips

    More Resources and Tips Regarding When To Start Seeds

    Homesteading Tips and Tricks
    How to Begin Homesteading
    Homemade Chicken Feed

    Free Garden Planning Worksheets

    Do you need help planning out your garden? It’s never too early (nor too late) to start planning your garden.

    We can help take the stress, anxiety and overwhelm out of garden planning with our free Garden Planning Worksheets.

    Make planning your garden easier than ever with your very own copy!

    Learn what’s inside the free printable gardening planner here.

    Or Grab your free Garden Planning Worksheets NOW!!

    Join the newsletter

    Subscribe to get our latest content by email.

      Content Creator at Secret Life of Homesteaders | Website | + posts

      Charlene has been dabbling in and learning about the homesteading lifestyle for almost 20 years. She recently started a real-world homestead with her extended family and is excited to share 20+ years of knowledge and experience with the world!

      While she certainly doesn't know everything about homesteading and is learning more every day, she is excited to learn and grow along with YOU!

      Charlene blogs about about homesteading at https://secretlifeofhomesteaders.com/.

      Share the wisdom!

      Donna @ Modern on Monticello

      Wednesday 4th of January 2023

      Thank you for sharing this early. I think it is a wonderful time to start planning our year for 2023 and gardening is a very important topic. This post will be a feature for the first party of 2023! #HomeMattersParty

      Barbara

      Wednesday 28th of December 2022

      Hello Charlene! I'm so glad you linked up to Share Your Style a couple of weeks ago. I found your seed starting post and since I actually planted some seeds today (starting them in my shed/greenhouse) to see if I can get some winter veggies growing. :) Monte Don grows tomatoes over winter, why can't we? (Have you seen him on Gardener's World, on the BBC? I watch on YouTube) ;)

      Anyway, enough silliness on my part! I wanted to let you know that I am happy to feature your post at this evening's Share Your Style #372 for you. Hope it helps you get a few more followers. <3

      Have a lovely New Year's and I'll see you next year, Hugs, Barb :)