Seeds to Success: It’s Easy!

Seed Starting Tips by Mark Adams

Start seeds indoors February or March so plants will be ready to go into the garden in May. (See our list below on when to start which varieties, indoors and outdoors.)

  • Use clean containers with drainage holes
  • Fill with sterilized seed starting mix. This mix is light and fluffy to hold just enough moisture. You can also use compressed pellets that expand when wet.
  • Water thoroughly until wet, letting excess water drain out
  • Sprinkle seeds on of mix and cover lightly with mix
  • Cover pots or trays with clear plastic to keep moisture in
  • Ideal temperature for germination is 75 degrees, but lower temps are o.k.
  • Remove plastic when seeds germinate and provide plenty of light to keep seedlings from stretching. Seedlings need lots of light, and a very sunny south- facing window may do, but most gardeners use artificial lights so the seedlings can get enough rays. Specialty plant light set ups are available, but an inexpensive T-12 or T-8 fluorescent shop light will work as well.
  • Transplant seedlings to individual pots when they show 2 leaves
  • Attention is the secret to successful seed starting. Check daily to see if the seeds have sprouts; to remove the cover when it’s time and move the sprouts under lights; to make sure they stay properly moist.
  • Introduce your plants to the outdoors gradually, a process called “hardening off.” For a few hours one fine spring day, then a few hours more the next, give your plants a taste of the outdoors, but bring them in at night. After a week or so, they will have acclimated to the outdoors and will be ready to transplant. Check the weather for frost dates before planting and listen to the weather forecast to be aware of a cold night when your plants may need protection.

What to Sow (and When!)


  • February: Begonias, Geraniums, Pansies, Parsley, Petunia, Thyme, Vinca
  • March: Ageratum, Alyssum, Broccoli, Brussells Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celosia, Coleus, Collards, Dahlia, Dianthus, Eggplant, Impatiens, Lettuce, Nicotiana, Oregano, Pepper, Portulaca, Snapdragon, Stock, Tomato
  • April: Aster, Basil, Cosmos, Cucumber, Marigolds, Muskmelon, Squash, Watermelon, Zinnia


  • April: Beets, Carrots, Corn, Onions, Peas, Radish
  • Late May: Beans, Cucumber, Squash, Sunflowers

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