When to Start Vegetable Seeds Indoors

Q: How do I know when to plant my seeds indoors, so they’ll be the right size for transplanting outdoors?

A: Cool-loving crops like broccoli and cabbage can be started indoors about 12 weeks before the last frost date, then transplanted outdoors about 5 weeks before the frost date. Lettuce and chard can be started about 7 weeks before the last frost date, and planted out about 3 weeks before the frost date.

Warm season crops can be started indoors, but you’ll need to wait until after the last frost date to transplant them outdoors. Tomatoes can be started about 6 weeks before the last frost date, and transplanted outdoors right after the frost date. Eggplants, peppers, and members of the squash family are real heat-lovers. Eggplants and peppers can be started 7 weeks before the last frost date, and planted out 2 weeks after the frost date.

Squash, cucumbers and melons, and pumpkins can be started indoors about 3 weeks before the last frost date, and planted out 2 weeks after the frost date or sown directly in the garden about 2 weeks after the last frost.

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