When Do I Plant These Seeds, Yo?

when do I plant seeds

I’m still trying to recover from that last post. I still haven’t seen any of my poor worms. Granted, I haven’t really looked, but…it’s like I’m expecting them to be having some kind of loud worm party and be all disturbing and I call in, “Pipe down in there! I’m trying to watch Jimmy Fallon on Youtube.” Worst worm mom. Ever.

But we’re not talking about worms today, we’re talking about seeds.

You bought some seeds. But you still have snow on the ground and probably will for another few weeks. Your growing season is too short to wait to start the seeds outside, what do you do? You start them inside, of course – unless you want to pay the money to buy the already-grown plants in late Spring, but if that’s the case then that’s your problem because I’m too cheap for that.

So when do you plant your seeds? Well it depends on two things:

1. Where you live.

2. What you’re growing.

I live in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 5, which is like, I may as well live in Alaska. No joke, there are sections of Alaska that are Zone 5. So I basically can’t put anything in the ground until August. Okay, that’s a joke, but seriously, I can’t put tomatoes in until almost June. Same with peppers. And those are two of my favorite things to grow – because they’re the easiest…and they taste pretty good, well at least tomatoes do. Peppers, I have to cook those in order to enjoy them. Otherwise, bleh – they’re like peppery and stuff.

1. Okay, so figure out the zone you live in…hold up. You don’t even need that. Just skip to #2.

2. Figure out the average last frost date (the approximate date of the last day you’ll see frost for the winter/spring season) where you live. Click here: Farmers’ Almanac – this site is great, just enter your zip code. Heck, you don’t even need to read this post anymore, just go over there and they’ll tell you exactly which plant you need to start inside on what date. Although sometimes I don’t totally agree with everything they say because I trust Bill, my nursery guy, and sometimes he says different stuff. And heck if I know what they’re talking about with that whole planting by the moon stuff. All it did was made me start singing Aquarius…like out loud. When the moooooon is in the seventh house…Aquaaariuuuusss…Aquariuuuuussss!

Alright, so you used the almanac to type in your zip code and figure out your last frost date. Our average last frost date is May 1st to 15th (I checked other sources too). That’s late. OMG, I want to live in North Carolina or something. My aunt grew her first tomatoes in a pot in NC last year and I was all jealous because she was getting flowers on her plant and I hadn’t even gotten mine in the ground yet. Whatevs.

If you want to figure out your planting dates on your own without fully depending on that almanac site then once you find your last frost date, look at the back of your seed packet. All plants vary. The back will tell you when to start these seeds inside. Look at where that giant red arrow is in this photo.


You need to count back (grab a calendar) that number of weeks (for these seeds, 8 to 10 weeks) from your average last frost date (that you got from the Farmers’ Almanac site, mine is May 1 to 15) to figure out when you’re supposed to plant your seeds. Well, holy crap, based on my calculations some of you should have already started! Then this post is a complete waste of your time. Sorry, southern folk. You’re totally screwed if you haven’t already put your seeds in some dirt – just wait a few weeks and go drop a buttload of money on some plants. But if you live in Alaska or you’re still under a four feet of snow like I am then you’re totally cool. So we’ll continue.

For the packet of bell peppers in the picture, in the Chicago area, backing up 8 to 10 weeks puts me at…somewhere between March 6 through the 20th to plant the seeds inside, if I use the May 15 last frost date. If I go with the May 1 last frost date, then I’m looking at February 20 through March 6th. I haven’t done any planting yet, so we’ll stick with March 6th-ish.

Now you just do that for every seed you need to start indoors. Mark the dates on your calendar so you don’t forget when to plant.

I guess I’ll need to show you how to plant the seeds pretty soon then. And I’ll have to show you my sweet homemade lighting set-up. Next time.

Later Taters!

12 thoughts on “When Do I Plant These Seeds, Yo?

  1. Pingback: Don’t Give Your Kid a Whoopee Cushion…or Any Other Fart Noise-Making Device for That Matter | Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine

  2. Pingback: Seeds Be in Da Hooouuuse! (or How to Plant Seeds Inside) | I Try to Grow Stuff…

  3. funnyisfamily

    My kids have been up my ass to get planting, but we are still buried in snow. It truly never occurred to me that we could plant indoors. Thanks for the kickstart. I’m a total rookie, so I’ll be be asking you lots of lame questions for the next few weeks (months?).

  4. Jean

    We planted our seeds yesterday. The kids aren’t used to dirt anymore (they’re now snow and ice babies) and my son freaked out after one seed. My daughter wanted to eat the dirt, I think. The only thing that really confused me was that all the instructions told us not to put the seeds in direct sunlight. So, right now they’re hanging out where it’s warm but not totally sunny. I’m doubtful because obviously sun is always good, right?

    1. canigetanotherbottleofwhine Post author

      I keep mine on top of my fridge (for warmth) until they sprout. Then I move them to my shelved, articial lighting system. Im not sure if they could get damaged by the direct sun. You’d probably need to do some aggressive watering. I recently killed a thyme plant I brought in from the outside. It was sitting in the one window we have facing south. It just got too hot…and dry (I’m lazy with indoor plants…sceptic my seedlings). I almost killed my mint plant, but moved it away from the window before it died. Now it’s sitting in a west facing window and only gets a little morning sun, but mint doesn’t mind shade.

      I just did a search for seedlings in direct sun and the first three results were for cannibis. Ha! Then I found this which indicates direct sunlight in a south-facing window is fine : http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/ten-seed-starting-tips.aspx?id=80518 I hope this helps! So what are you growing?

      1. Jean

        Thank you! We’re growing nine different things right now. Tomatoes, peppers, squashes, basil… Most importantly, sunflowers. I took the kids with me to pick out seeds which was fun but an absolute mistake.

      2. canigetanotherbottleofwhine Post author

        My kids did sunflowers two years ago. We did them in pots. They were huge; the kids loved them. I’ve never grown squash before. It takes up a lot of room and my garden is on the small side. Plus, I’m not a super huge fan of the taste. I grow a lot of basil and dry it at the end of the season. I’m learning a lot every year about pinching the leaves and all that stuff.

  5. Katie @ The Surly Housewife

    thanks for the reminder! All the snow here I forgot its MARCH and we need to start garden planning. All our seeds started well indoors last year and then we killed them somehow. I am seriously debated getting plants this year. Cheapness vs laziness over here 😉

    1. canigetanotherbottleofwhine Post author

      Haha! Yeah I get that. I have a major lazy gene. I just have the frugal and cheap gene that is dominant. I forgot it was March too. Stinking snow. I wonder what did your seedlings in last year? What kind of light source did you use?

      1. Katie @ The Surly Housewife

        My husband (who is the much more experienced gardener) and I aren’t totatally sure. They started off fine, then just withered up and died. If I remember right, we didn’t have a lot of sun last spring, so we put them under artificial light so it may have been that. Or they got too warm. It ended up not being a huge deal since our garden was a giant mud pit last spring and we couldn’t have planted anything anyway. I have to keep reminding myself “I enjoy gardening. I enjoy gardening.”

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