The typical vegetable planting schedule for starting seeds always depends on the date of the average last frost in your geographic area. This is called the “Last Frost Date”.
You have to know that last frost date so you can count backward and figure out when you should start your seedlings. When counting, you’ll need to include the time it will take to germinate the seed, grow a strong seedling, harden it off (which is basically exposing the seedling to the weather in a slow measured way), then transplanting it at the right time.
The National Climate Data Center website has a list of all the last frost dates for each city and state in the US.
Once you know the last frost date for your location, you can then look at your seed packets and determine how many weeks the seeds need to germinate and get to transplant status.
The basic vegetable planting schedule for timing the planting of seeds looks something like this (assuming the last frost date of May 21st):
- January: Seed catalogs come in the mail (or order them if need be). Pore over these and figure out what you want to grow this year.
- February: Start the seeds for plants that take 8-12 weeks to get ready for transplanting. (Start on May 21st and count backward 12 weeks. That would put you at the last week of February).
- March: Start the seeds for plants that take 6-8 weeks to get ready for transplanting
- April: Start the seeds for plants that take 4-8 weeks to get ready for transplanting
- May: The seeds for plants that take 2-4 weeks to get ready for transplanting; begin hardening off the seedlings by exposing them to the sun and wind for a few hours each day.
- May 21st or later: Transplant seedlings into the garden.
NOTE: If you have a greenhouse, you can set your last frost date back by about a month. (The greenhouse should be warm enough by then).