Seed starting plan from Sarah in Illinois

Sarah in Illinois is being very methodical in her garden planning this year. She’s here today sharing how she’s mapping out what she’s going to grow and when she’s going to start planting.

We’d love to hear your tips for starting your garden. What works for you? How do you  plan what you do when?

We still have below freezing temperatures down here, but it hasn’t stopped me from daydreaming about being out in the garden. One way to fill that void is to make a to-do list or game plan for the spring. Here are a few things that I have planned for the upcoming weeks.

1. Make a list of what I want to grow in the garden this year and divide them up into 3 categories: start indoors from seed, sow seed directly into the garden and purchase as established plant.

2. Place order for any seeds purchased through mail order.

3. For seeds started indoors, plan what day I should start them.

To do that I searched online for last frost date for my zip code. One source said April 17 and another said April 14. I decided to just use April 15 since it is an easy date to remember (tax day for us Americans). So for example I want to start my Black Krim tomato seeds indoors. The packet says to start 6-8 weeks before planting outdoors. So I should start it indoors sometime in between Feb. 18 and March 4.

4. Set up indoor seed starting area.

I have mentioned before that I have a lot of trouble starting seeds indoors and transferring them to the garden. So this year I am going to take it more seriously than just throwing some seeds in the dirt. I purchased a seedling heat mat and I am going to set up a grow light. I plan to post about it as I go along both to help others and to get advice.

Do you place seed orders through mail order? Or do you have another source for your seeds and plants? Do you start your seeds indoors? Do you have any advice for me on transferring them outside?

You seem very organized, Sarah. Well done. It’s been great to see your garden evolve through the years. I love how you learn and adjust each season and keep working to improve your approach. I’ll be interested to hear how your plan works out this year.

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7 thoughts on “Seed starting plan from Sarah in Illinois

  1. Last year I grew indoors (in my basement, not ideal but the only space I have now) 4200 seedlings for my potager, but direct seeded all the plants like beans, peas, carrots, kohlrabi, potatoes, most of the beets, the later squash, melons, and cukes (the early ones start indoors.) The garlic and shallots and some onion sets go in directly, but some onions I start indoors. When I had commercial greenhouses, the dates on the seed packages were pretty close, because growing conditions were perfect. Now, in the basement, I find that it takes a bit longer for everything. I plant directly when Mother Nature tells me to. .snow peas with the first crocus…shelling peas with the first daffodil, set out tomato plants when the borage seedlings emerge. Best of luck!

    • 4200 seedlings! Wow! That sounds like so much work, but really fun. That’s good to know that they seem to take longer than what the package says, I know that I am going to be itching to plant something sooner rather than later. 🙂

  2. That’s some smart planning, there. Great idea to take those dates and work backwards.
    We don’t have a place in our house to start seeds, at least not this year as my daughter is living with us in our tiny, two-bedroom basement suite. There is only one side of the suite where the light is sufficient – unless we got a grow light too…hmm, that’s actually a possibility. Thanks for the idea!
    I’m looking forward to your garden posts. I’m impressed by the big, beautiful gardens people are able to grow!

    • Each year I have bigger and bigger plans for our garden. I don’t know where I think I am going to find all the extra time for all of the work, but I will manage!

      • If you do the front-end work like you’re planning now, then the garden itself and all those lovely fruits and veggies will force you to find the time during growing season! 😉

  3. I order my seeds by mail, and start them under a grow light. I’m pretty haphazard about getting them started on time. When the plants are big enough I transfer them into peat pots and they go back under the lights. When they’re too big, they get moved to the shed, where they spend nights; hopefully it’s warm enough for them to sit outside and harden off during the days. Some time in early June (read: whenever I get the garden ready) they’re planted, pot and all to avoid disturbing the roots. The roots grow right through the peat pots. I place a toilet paper roll over each tomato and pepper plant to keep cutworms away. By the time the rolls fall apart, the stems are big enough to deter cutworms. Now if I could just find a deterrent for deer…….

    • I have read about planting the peat pots directly, that is a great idea. I hadn’t heard about the toilet paper rolls however, I will have to start saving them. Deer aren’t a terrible problem in our garden, but I have definitely seen their tracks on occasion.

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