Use a Planting Calendar to Start Vegetable Seeds Indoors

Story by Mary Lou Peter, K-State Research and Extension
Photography courtesy of K-State Research and Extension

With daylight lasting a bit longer day by day, avid gardeners are hankering to plant. One way to satisfy that wish is to start vegetable seeds indoors, according to Ward Upham at Kansas State University. “If you start vegetable plants indoors, it is often helpful to list seeding dates on a calendar so that plants are ready for transplanting at the proper time,” says Ward, director of the K-State Research and Extension Rapid Response Center in the horticulture, forestry and recreation resources department. “To do this, gardeners should choose their transplant date and count back the number of weeks necessary to grow their own transplants.” Information on how many weeks it takes to grow transplants is available in the January 8 K-State newsletter.

Ward provided a list of common vegetables grown for transplants and a recommended date for seeding, adding that the dates are Saturdays because that’s when many homeowners have the most free time.

*Peppers -- seeding date: March 22, transplant date: May 17
*Tomatoes -- seeding date: March 29, transplant date: May 10
*Vine crops, such as cucumbers, watermelons and squash, can be started early (but usually not in Kansas because they are more finicky).
*Some flowers also can be started at the same time as tomatoes and peppers. Find more info in the vegetable and flower seeding table.

“The dates are not set in stone,” he says. “A week earlier or later will not ruin the plants. Gardeners might want to seed a week or two earlier if they are in southern Kansas and possibly a week later if in northern Kansas.” He also suggests growers keep notes on how well the transplants did so they can tweak the planting schedule. “Depending on location in the state, local conditions could result in plants that need a bit more or a bit less time,” he says.

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K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well‑being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan.

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