Starting seeds indoors requires planning to get the most of your growing season. Before you know when to start planting your seeds, you should be aware of the frost free and first frost dates in your growing area. These are going to determine how many growing days you average. All plants have a different amount of days required to reach harvest. You can find out how many days your plant varieties take by reading the information on the seed packet. Once you figure out your growing days, you should calculate how early to begin your seeds if growing them indoors. The benefit to starting seeds indoors is that it extends your growing season. In Alaska, an extension is always helpful as we have limited days in-between our last and first frosts.
When you know the days in your growing season, you can determine how early to start plants indoors. The seed packets give you an idea of how long to start the seeds before transplanting them outdoors. For example, if a broccoli seed packet says to start indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost and your last frost date is May 30th, count back at least 4 weeks and that will give you an idea of when to start planting. It is important to remember that seeds germinate at different rates. If the broccoli seeds take 10 days to germinate, you might want to start your seeds a week or two earlier. Keep in mind the days to maturity found on the seed packet does not start until the seeds are germinated. Germinated seeds means that they are pushed through the soil and are little seedlings. Some seeds are going to take anywhere from 5 days to 21 days to germinate. This information should also be on the seed packet.
Some seeds such as celery and onions recommend starting 8-12 weeks before your frost free date. These seeds are much slower to germinate and take more time to reach the proper size for transplanting. It is important to purchase your seeds as early as possible so that you can receive them in time to start planting if they are being ordered online. Shipping delays can end up being the difference in you getting a second harvest. Certain varieties sell out fast and everyone is thinking about ordering seeds between January and March, especially seeds that need to be started indoors to reach maturity and get you the most harvest in your growing days. Successful harvest comes with planning and planning happens during late winter.