Views from the Garden: Vegetable Gardener Decision Time

For vegetable gardeners that want to grow their own food, it is decision time for the early seeding of some of the plants you may want to grow in this year’s garden. I am not going to get into the how-to details because that is too much for this column. There are lots of sources for the information you need on line and in books at the library.
The basic decision is, do you want to do it indoors or outdoors? If indoors, February is the month to start some seeds. I will say, you need a sunny south facing window or grow lights to succeed with indoor seeding. Display racks of seed packets at local outlets or mail order catalogs are good sources of fresh seed.
What is the information you need to time when to plant seed indoors? To determine the timing, you must start at the date you will plant out in the garden and work backward.
Until you gain experience, use the information on the back of the seed packet for the plant you want to grow for recommendations. Most packets provide information for days to germination from planting and days to transplant size.
Plants that are not hardy and must not be exposed to freeze can be planted out no earlier than May 15 unless you have special freeze protection. Plants growing indoors need to “harden off” for their life outdoors and this should be planned for one week. Time frame for germination and growing to transplant size must also be subtracted to get the date you seed indoors.
Another way to approximate the time to seed is to say cold weather plants from the cole family such as broccoli and cabbage should be started indoors the last half of February and warm weather plants such as tomatoes and peppers should be started approximately March.
There is so much fun and satisfaction in the garden when you grow your own food. If you miss a time for seeding plants indoors, you can always fall back on seeding outdoors for many of the plants. That can be started, as the seed packet will say, as soon as the soil can be worked. Good luck!

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