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When to Start Seedlings

When to Start Seedlings

One of the biggest mistakes gardeners make is starting seedlings too soon.

I know gardeners in Los Angeles who harvest tomatoes in January, but north of USDA Zone 6 you shouldn’t even think of starting tomatoes until February.

In USDA Zone 4 we start ours in two batches: A few in mid-March, and a larger group around the first of April. If the weather breaks early, the March planting is worth it; but if spring is sow, the early seedlings just get tossed out, as they are too big when planting season arrives.

That’s why it’s a good idea to make two sowings of seed, a week or two apart. If something happens to one set, you’ve got the backup. With two plantings, a week before and a week after the theoretically ideal planting date, you’re ready either way.


Group 1
Start 10 to 12 weeks before the frost-free date.

Perennial Herbs

Group 2
Start 6 to 8 weeks before the frost-free date.


Group 3
Start 2 to 4 weeks before the frost-free date.

Brussels Sprouts
Annual Herbs

Read more: Nature, Lawns & Gardens

Adapted from Straight-Ahead Organic,by Shepherd Ogden. Copyright (c)1992, 1999 by Shepherd Ogden. Reprinted by permission of Chelsea Green Publishing Company.
Adapted from Straight-Ahead Organic,by Shepherd Ogden.

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

Go to the Source

Straight-Ahead Organic, by Shepherd Ogden

This is a new and revised edition of Shepherd Ogden's Step-by-Step Organic Vegetable Gardening, a book that introduced thousands of gardeners to the benefits and techniques of organic processes. Although the author is by any definition a Master Grower, this book intended for the amateur enthusiast who is poised to make the leap to now


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9:46AM PDT on Apr 29, 2013


12:59AM PDT on Mar 28, 2013


7:16AM PST on Feb 22, 2013

Thank you for sharing. Good information is classic and timeless.

6:15AM PST on Feb 22, 2013

Thank you Annie, for Sharing this!

9:00PM PST on Feb 21, 2013

How about just reading the advice on seed packets? Has anyone else noticed this is a FIFTEEN YEAR OLD article? Yeah, folks..........put out in 1999. How's that for current information?

12:01PM PST on Feb 21, 2013


9:37AM PST on Feb 21, 2013

YAY!! Can't wait for Spring! Articles like this get me excited to get out in the dirt!

6:37AM PST on Feb 21, 2013

thanks - can't wait!

5:54AM PST on Feb 21, 2013

Thanks for sharing this article.

5:52AM PST on Feb 21, 2013

Thank you for sharing

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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