Less Noise, More Green: Seed Planting Guides

Monday, February 10, 2014

Seed Planting Guides

seed planting guides
My seed orders keep arriving in the mail. These seeds are from Botanical Interests.

This weekend was all about my kids' birthdays, who were born on the 7th and the 9th of February (my son was due on the 7th and yes, I crossed my legs and held my breath and he made it two more days - who wants to share their birthday with their sister?).

The art work on these packets is so colorful and cheerful - a needed reminder that the snow and cold will end.

I did manage to update my planting guide. I always feel a sense of relief when it is done. I put a lot of energy into designing my plots and all of that work could be ruined if I don't plant when I am supposed to. We have such a short growing window here in New England.  Once the guide is done, the mental work is over and I just follow the outline. No second guessing, no double plantings and no forgotten vegetables. Mother Nature, of course, will have her own plans and I may have to adapt, but on the whole, the guide allows for a more relaxed gardening experience.

This guide from URI gives region specific plant dates and is the starting point for my own calendar.

My guide is designed for my specific growing conditions. Where I live in Rhode Island I am in Zone 6B. My last average frost date is May 15th and the first is October 15th. I use this information and a Rhode Island Planting Calendar from URI to map out planting dates for the veggies I plan to plant. You should be able to find a planting guide for your region from the Outreach Center at your state university.

I also use the information on the seed packets to give me harvest dates. Often, the packet will also tell you when you should plant in relation to your last frost date and whether the company recommends starting the seeds under grow lights or direct sowing in the soil.

I create two guides. One is for the plants I will start indoors. I list the sowing date and the date to transplant the plants outside. I list the plants that need to germinate on a heat mat separately so I don't forget that step.

The second guide lists sowing by month, the dates for direct sowing vegetable seeds and the transplant dates for plants grown indoors.

 I note if the seeds or transplants are going into the soil or into containers.  I also list time frames for succession plantings of lettuce, green onions and radishes.

Lastly, I list how many days to maturity for each crop. Once I sow the seed, either indoors or out, I calculate and note the expected harvest date.  Many crops have a range of plant dates. This year I am planning a trip for two weeks in July so I am planning to plant some crops a little later than last year so they will not mature while I am away ( I can ask my family to water for me, but harvest and process  veggies - it's just not going to happen).

I also note any special instructions. Some of the seeds I'm direct sowing like the soil to be a certain temperature to germinate so I'll monitor the soil for the right time to plant.

A garden is never 'done' and there will always be a long list of chores, but I like my lists. I can look at what needs to be done in the upcoming week and not worry beyond that because I have already mapped it out.  Soon I'll create a monthly To Do List, especially to do with preparing the soil for planting.  For now, I need to focus on planning the new raised beds and the edible landscaping for the front of the house.

Do you plan ahead or do you wing your plantings?



  1. Thank you for this FABULOUS post. I have been thinking exactly the SAME thoughts these past few days and wondering how to put it all down on paper. Thank you for your ideas to help me with this. This is the first year that I am starting my own seed and I am looking forward to that aspect of gardening. Have a great day! Catherine

    1. Hi Catherine! I really enjoy growing plants from seed. Eating a vegetable that you nurtured from a tiny seedling is so rewarding. Have you decided on what you're going to grow? Sue

    2. Oh Sue! Have I decided? I just sent in my last (I think) order for seeds. I am running the full spectrum this year and I am just hoping that a few things work in my favor. It's all truly an experiment for me and the nature we have here.

      I must say, I am so envious of your photos! I have to get better at that for my blog. I guess I am usually in so much of a rush, I have to slow down.

    3. I grow a lot of different veggies, too. Something always does well which is very encouraging! Thank you for the kind words about my photos! I have a great camera and a husband who is a talented photographer and has taught me a lot.