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Starting Plants Indoors

Every year I hear people complain they missed starting their plants indoor.

If you are in Missouri, or growing regions 5 (really just check your local USDA zone map), this is the time to start.


In 2-3 weeks I will be planting my tomatoes indoors, in egg shells filled with potting soil. I place them in cut down egg cartons and put a domed clear plastic cake cover (from a Walmart cake) over the top.

They will be ready to plant by garden season. Later, I will also start inside my watermelon and zucchini and a few other plants.

If you are further south, you will want to start this process sooner.

By mom-from-missouri from NW Missouri


Starting Plants Indoors

Two people living in the same zone can still have drastically different last frost dates, which is the key to knowing when to start plants. For instance, I live in PA and my mom in MO: we both are in zone 6, but her average last frost date is mid-April and mine is mid-May, 4 weeks apart.


If you don't know your average last frost date, call your county extension (check your phone book government pages for the number) to find out when it is. Then take a calendar, mark the date, and number off the weeks before and after. Most seed packets will say when to plant the seeds and/or transplant starts relative to that date: for instance, start tomatoes 6-8 weeks before last frost, transplant after last frost. Cabbages can be planted out a few weeks before last frost if hardened off, and take about 4 weeks to get to transplant size, so you start them 6 weeks prior to last frost. Squash get planted out 2 weeks after last frost, beans about the time of last frost, etc.

So you can then take this information from the seed packets, go back to your calendar, and write in which weeks to start different kinds of seeds. Keep in mind that some crops, like lettuce and radishes, you may want to plant several small plantings of several weeks apart, so they aren't all ready at once. You can save this calendar and use it year to year, too. Who cares if the days of the week don't match this year.


If you plant fall crops, you will also want to find out your average first fall frost date, too, so you can determine what the latest date is that you can plant a crop and still have it mature. If beans take 60 days from seed to picking, you don't want to plant them when the frost date is only 40 days away. (02/16/2010)

By Contester

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