When to start your seedlings

When is the best time to start our seeds?

In North America, it is best to start certain seeds 6-8 weeks before transplanting them to their permanent locations in the garden.  These seeds include eggplants, hot and sweet peppers, gourds, tulsi, and tomatoes among others.  When starting seeds indoors, place the seedlings directly under intense grow lights.  The lights should be bright but cool (fluorescent lamps). The baby plants should be moved outdoors gradually and well after the last spring frost.  Initially move them to a shaded part of your garden or on your deck.  Only after the seedlings have acclimated to the outside conditions should they be moved into the direct sunlight of your garden.

For other varieties it is best to plant directly in the garden. Peas and spinach can be planted in very early spring. Radishes, cabbage, cauliflower, coriander and carrots can be planted next in early spring.  Finally beans, corn, okra, gongura, Malabar spinach, melons, herbs, cucumbers, and squash should be planted well after the last spring frost.

Crops such as bush beans,  may be planted as late as mid to late summer.

Cabbage, cauliflower and spinach can be planted twice, once in the spring and once again as a fall crop (started in late summer)

The following is a guide for the first and last frost dates in the United States (courtesy of the Old Farmers Almanac).  Use it only as a guide:

City State Growing Season
(Length in Days)
Last Frost
Spring
First Frost
Fall
Juneau AK 148 May 8 Oct. 4
Mobile AL 273 Feb. 28 Nov. 29
Pine Bluff AR 240 Mar. 16 Nov. 12
Phoenix AZ * * *
Tucson AZ 324 Jan 19 Dec. 18
Eureka CA 323 Jan. 27 Dec. 16
Sacramento CA 296 Feb. 10 Dec. 4
San Francisco CA * * *
Denver CO 157 April 30 Oct. 4
Hartford CT 166 Apr. 26 Oct. 9
Wilmington DE 202 Apr. 10 Oct. 30
Miami FL * * *
Tallahassee FL 239 Mar. 22 Nov. 17
Athens GA 227 Mar. 24 Nov. 7
Savannah GA 268 Mar. 1 Nov. 25
Atlantic IA 148 May 2 Sept. 28
Cedar Rapids IA 163 Apr. 25 Oct. 6
Boise ID 147 May 10 Oct. 6
Chicago IL 187 Apr. 20 Oct. 24
Springfield IL 182 Apr. 13 Oct. 13
Indianapolis IN 181 Apr. 17 Oct. 16
South Bend IN 175 Apr. 26 Oct. 19
Topeka KS 174 Apr. 19 Oct. 11
Lexington KY 192 Apr. 15 Oct. 25
Monroe LA 256 Mar. 3 Nov. 15
New Orleans LA 300 Feb. 12 Dec. 11
Worcester MA 170 Apr. 26 Oct. 14
Baltimore MD 200 Apr. 11 Oct. 29
Portland ME 156 May 2 Oct. 6
Lansing MI 145 May 10 Oct. 3
Marquette MI 154 May 11 Oct. 13
Duluth MN 124 May 21 Sept. 23
Willmar MN 154 Apr. 30 Oct. 1
Jefferson City MO 188 Apr. 13 Oct. 18
Columbus MS 248 Mar. 13 Nov. 16
Vicksburg MS 240 Mar. 20 Nov. 16
Fort Peck MT 141 May 8 Sept. 26
Helena MT 121 May 19 Sept. 18
Fayetteville NC 222 Mar. 28 Nov. 5
Bismarck ND 129 May 14 Sept. 21
Blair NE 167 Apr. 25 Oct. 10
North Platte NE 137 May 9 Sept. 24
Concord NH 124 May 20 Sept. 21
Newark NJ 217 Apr. 3 Nov. 7
Carlsbad NM 215 Mar. 31 Nov. 2
Los Alamos NM 149 May 11 Oct. 8
Las Vegas NV 283 Feb. 16 Nov. 27
Albany NY 153 May 2 Oct. 3
Syracuse NY 168 Apr. 28 Oct. 13
Akron OH 192 Apr. 18 Oct. 28
Cincinnati OH 192 Apr. 13 Oct. 23
Lawton OK 223 Mar. 29 Nov. 7
Tulsa OK 218 Mar. 30 Nov. 4
Pendleton OR 187 Apr. 13 Oct. 18
Portland OR 236 Mar. 2 3 Nov. 15
Franklin PA 164 May 6 Oct. 17
Williamsport PA 168 Apr. 30 Oct. 15
Kingston RI 147 May 8 Oct. 3
Charleston SC 260 Mar. 9 Nov. 25
Columbia SC 214 Apr. 1 Nov. 1
Rapid City SD 140 May 9 Sept. 27
Memphis TN 235 Mar. 22 Nov. 13
Nashville TN 204 Apr. 6 Oct. 28
Amarillo TX 185 Apr. 18 Oct. 20
Denton TX 243 Mar. 18 Nov. 16
San Antonio TX 270 Feb 28 Nov. 25
Cedar City UT 133 May 21 Oct. 1
Spanish Fork UT 167 May 1 Oct. 16
Norfolk VA 247 Mar. 20 Nov. 23
Richmond VA 206 Apr. 6 Oct. 30
Burlington VT 147 May 8 Oct. 3
Seattle WA 251 Mar. 10 Nov. 17
Spokane WA 153 May 2 Oct. 3
Green Bay WI 150 May 6 Oct. 4
Sparta WI 133 May 13 Sept. 24
Parkersburg WV 183 Apr. 21 Oct. 22
Casper WY 120 May 22 Sept. 19

*Frosts do not occur every year.