It’s time to start seeds in NJ

Starting seeds for the veggie garden means exactly one thing to me:  it is almost spring!!!

Last year was the first time I had a vegetable garden.  We built two raised beds out of spare lumber and added organic compost.  The whole process made me feel like a little kid since I would race home from work to see what had grown since yesterday.  And then after all the work we got to eat stuff.  Not a bad deal.

So for those not in the know, some veggies take a long time to grow and if you waited until it was warm out to plant seeds, they wouldn’t give you any veggies until November. So for some it is recommended to start seeds indoors to get a jump start.  I love this part for a few reasons:

1. It’s something outdoorsy that you can still do in the warmth of your home in February

2. It’s fun to watch the little sprouts come up and you will feel so proud of yourself.

3. It’s a lot cheaper than buying already grown plants.  A packet of seeds can be less than $2 so if you kill them all you aren’t out much.

There are a thousand ways to do this.  You will need seeds to plant, a pot to plant them in, soil to put in the pot  and some kind of tray & clear cover to keep the soil from drying out.  They sell all this stuff at home and garden centers or you can be creative and use what you’ve got.

We start by choosing seeds.  They have a nice selection of organic seeds at my Lowe’s so I went there.  If you are starting out and not looking for something specific there is no need to be overwhelmed by looking at seed catalogs.  Here is what I chose and frankly it’s more than I needed but I was just so excited.



The first and second columns (from left) get started outside once the last chance of frost is over.   The third column is herbs that can be started outside but I like to start them inside because I am impatient and want them as soon as possible.  The fourth column has the long growing season and gets started inside and transferred outside when it’s warm.

Try to remember to be practical.  There are a lot of seeds in these little envelopes and you should not plant them all.  Plant a few of each to give you a better chance that you will end up with something to  plant.  Do not do what I did last year and start 10 -15 of each kind of seed.  It took so long to plant everything and I used a lot of soil.  In the end I only has space to plant two and it’s very sad to throw your hard work in the compost.  Also be mindful of the fact that you will have to have space for, nurture and weed these seeds all summer.  Don’t make your garden so big you dread having to do the work.

So now that we have our seeds, the first thing we need to figure out is when to plant them.  The packet will have directions of what that particular seed needs to grow and will mention a “last frost date”.  This is an established date for the year in your area where there will be little chance of temperatures going below freezing.  There are a million websites with maps that will tell you your ‘planting zone’.  I am a fan of The Farmer’s Almanac where you can enter your zip code and it will give you specific info that is easier for beginners.

Here is mine:


As you can see it says that I should start my tomato and pepper seeds from Feb 15-29.  So last Friday, the 17th I planted my seeds.  I will detail all of that tomorrow.  Stay tuned.


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