Ready to grow a vegetable garden? Want to know when to sow your seeds? Use this weekly schedule to start your seeds both indoors and outdoors from spring onward to grow a fabulous food garden.

Need the basics? How to Start a Vegetable Garden (Right Now) is perfect for beginners ready to get their seed starting supplies and outdoor garden beds or containers all set. It also provides a sample veggie garden layout.

1-2-3 Vegetable Garden Plan

1Know Your Frost-free Days

The first step is to know how many frost-free days you have to work with. To do this, look up your average first and last frost dates using the links below and count the number of days between them. Jot this number down: you will use it over and over again.

To gain more growing days, you can also use season extenders including frost cloths, cold frames, polytunnels, or other protective covers. But don’t worry about that yet: there are plenty of options either way.

Find Your Frost Dates & Hardiness Zone

Plant Hardiness Zones | United States | Canada
These are listed on seed packets and plant tags to guide your choices.Average Frost Dates | Use this calculator at Enter your city and state or province to find your first and last frost dates and number of frost-free days. Buy Seeds | Canada | United States

2Decide What You Want to Grow

The best advice is to grow what you love to eat and/or is costly to buy—or not available at shops.If you are growing for friends or food banks, find out what they need.

You could also team up with neighbors where you each choose certain crops to grow and share the bounty.

Jot down ideas—like carrots, tomatoes, beans, peas, or salad greens, and start exploring online seed catalogues for options. If you’re new to this, you will soon discover that there are dozens if not hundreds of types of each vegetable—so many wonderful choices you’ll never find in stores.

3Make a Plan

I’ve mapped out a seed starting plan below based on my own experience over the years. Use this as a starting point and get your seeds ordered as soon as possible.

I cannot emphasize enough that the best timing for indoor and outdoor sowing depends on the specific seeds you have chosen in addition to your frost dates and growing conditions.

For example, some tomatoes are really quick (45 days) while others may need 150 days either from seed to harvest, or from transplant date to harvest. But the good news is, if you’re late for starting one variety, you may have time for another quicker growing one.

Use your frost-free day number as a starting point and add on 14 days (or more) for elbow room.

And finally, always give yourself a few extra weeks: plants grow slower in spring and fall, and cool summer weather can slow things down as well. This isn’t a problem for crops like leafy greens that can be eaten at any time, but it is an issue for things like watermelon or squash that must mature and ripen to be edible.

If you would like to download my vegetable seed sowing plan, click on DOWNLOAD NOW below.

Seed Sowing Plan

10-12 Weeks (70-84 Days) Before Last Frost

Vegetable Seeds to Start Indoors

Not many seeds should be started this far ahead, otherwise plants will get too big before planting time or struggle with indoor growing conditions.

Exceptions include some special tomatoes, peppers and onions with long growth cycles.

If your indoor temperature stays steady around 70°F (21°C)—give or take 5 degrees or so, most seeds will germinate just fine.

My ebook, Seed Starting for Beginners: Sow Inside Grow Outside, has everything you need to know to sow in your home.

Tiny Tim

Onions / Leeks
Ailsa Craig

Brandywine Red

Early Broccoli

Red Oxheart

Habanero + Scotch Bonnet

Flowering Perennial Seeds to Start Indoors

Asclepias (Butterfly Weed)Aquilegia (Columbine)BergamotCandytuft

ClematisEchinaceaHeliotrope GaillardiaLobeliaMonarda

PenstemonPrimulaVerbenaStrawberries (fruit)

This is also time to start woody herbs from seed including oregano, rosemary, thyme, and sage although growing from cuttings is much faster.

8-10 Weeks (56-70 Days) Before Last Frost

Vegetable Seeds to Start Indoors

(slow growers only)





Flowering Perennial Seeds to Start Indoors

DelphiniumGeranium (Hardy)

Shasta DaisyTitan Sunflowers (annual)

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4-8 Weeks (28-56 Days) Before Last Frost

Vegetable Seeds to Start Indoors

This is the busy time for indoor seed starting! Most of what we grow can be started at this time.




Celery / Celeriac

Brussels sprouts


+ Kale

Summer & Winter





Flower Seeds to Sow Indoors

Flowering Perennials

Globe ThistleLavenderThunbergia

Flowering Annuals

Sweet PeasNasturtiumsCalendulaZinnia

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Direct Sow Outdoors – Vegetable Seeds

When a seed packet says sow directly, it means you are sowing the seed in its final destination. Once sown, it should not be transplanted or moved from one location to another.

Root crops like carrots are particularly sensitive to transplanting so avoid it if possible.

Other direct sow seeds are fast-growers that have enough time to mature within our frost-free days so there is no need for indoor sowing.

Use my notes as a general guide and always check your seed packets for exact outdoor sowing time.

6-8 Weeks Before Last Frost (When Soil is Workable)

Have frost cloths handy in case temperatures dip below 30°F (-1°C).

4 Weeks Before Last Frost

Most of these ones like the soil temperature 50°F (10°C) or a bit warmer.


Swiss Chard*


Brussels sprouts



Some cold-tolerant plants that have several true leaves can now be hardened off and then transplanted outdoors at this time. This includes cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, lettuce, and kohlrabi.

2 Weeks Before Last Frost

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Sow Directly Outdoors After Last Frost

While indoor seed starting provides a good jump start, many of the same plants can be started outdoors when conditions are favorable. Plus, when early crops are done, it’s time to plant new ones in their place.

Again, check your seed packets for specific sowing instructions.

AmaranthArugulaBroad beans – sow when ground is workableBush and Pole beansSoya beansBeetsBroccoliCabbageCarrotsCeleryCeleriacChickpeasClaytonia

CollardsCornCorn saladCressCucumbersEndive / RadicchioKaleKohlrabiLeeksLeaf LettuceMesclunsMustardOkraOnionsPac choi

ParsnipsPeasPotatoesPumpkinPurslaneQuinoaRadishRutabagaScallionsSpinachSquash, summerSquash, winterSunflowersSwiss chardTurnipsZucchini

See What to Sow Mid-Summer Onward for growing into fall and winter.

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I hope this has given you lots of seed sowing ideas for your garden. And do dig in: there is no better garden teacher than experience.

~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛