~A Quick Guide to Starting Seeds~

Beginner Guidelines for Starting Food Crops

We have seeds available for purchase. You’ll find directions on the packets, but there a few basic guidelines that you can follow right now.

Direct seed for when the soil “can be worked,” these include spinach, rutabaga, parsnips, turnips, peas, beets, carrots, radishes, lettuce and Swiss chard. Kale is a cold crop, but it prefers to germinate at a warmer temperature. We recommend that you start Kale indoors and once it has a few true leaves it can be transplanted outside.

Seeds to start indoors will be warmer season crops, think of what you eat during the summer months. These will include tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, celery, cilantro, basil, oregano, and other herbs. You will need bright light (at least 6 hours of direct sun or a growing lamp) and the soil for most of these crops should be 65F. Peppers will germinate better with warmer soil temperatures, 70F at night and 80F during the day. If this is not achievable, it may take longer for peppers to germinate.

Potatoes will need warmer temperatures; around here we aim for mid-April. We have potato sets projected to arrive the week of March 30th.

Onions can be started indoors by seed at any time now. Onion sets (mini onion bulbs) will be available starting the week of March 30th as well and should be planted when you’re planting potatoes.

Cucurbits like to be planted directly into the soil, mostly in “mounds”. These include cucumbers, squashes and pumpkins. Start these after all threats of frost, typically around Mother’s Day (this year May 10th). 

Tips for Success

We are suppliers of Hart’s Seeds and Seed Savers Exchange
1. Make sure you are using germination or seedling mix to start seeds. The difference from regular potting soil is that there is not any fertilizer present. Fertilizer too early may stunt or prohibit germination.
2. Take note of directions on planting depth. Some seeds need light to germinate, and some do not.
3. Count the days/weeks back from when you are planning on planting. Usually after the last frost for warmer crops mentioned above.*Watch your night and day temperatures.
4. Do not let your soil dry out. Plants need water to germinate.
5. Do not over water your seeds or they will rot. Look at the color and touch of the soil if you are unsure.
5. Make sure you have a sunny window or a grow light to aid in germination.

Most of all…have fun and be patient!


Ever wonder about Genetically Modified Organisms vs Genetically Engineered? Check out this article from Hart’s to help explain the difference and why this topic is so important!