This is a tomato seedling, planted on 2/9/12. It has been growing steadily and has developed it’s second set of true leaves already. I have added soil as it has grown. Obviously though it is still little and cute and needs quite a bit more time indoors, which is great because I won’t be able to plant it outside until at least the end of April and even then it will need to be protected in walls of water.
Now. Take a look at this. Same size pot. Can you guess when this was planted?. 2/22/12. Later than the above tomato and it is a monster already. This picture was taken this morning. This afternoon, the first set of true leaves are really starting to come out already. Do you know what this means??? It means that this butternut squash plant will be an enormous pain in the rear by the time it is warm enough to plant it outside.
Do you see what I am getting at here? Now is the time to start your seedlings if you haven’t already, but be wise. There are some plants that don’t need to be started yet, and others that do. I don’t know what I was thinking when I stuck 3 squash seeds in my seedling pots. Well, apparently I wasn’t thinking. Normally I just plant squash and pumpkin seeds outside in the ground when it is time. That is what is called direct sowing. If you are doing seedlings, stick to warm weather plants in our zone – zone 6, (I am in the Boise, Idaho region) because our warm summer season is shorter here and they need the extra boost. You can start things like peppers and tomatoes. I started some watermelon and cantaloupe as well – it may have been a tad to early for those even because they grow large quickly, too. You can also start some flowers, if you are so inclined (I started mine inside yesterday. Now the baby’s room is also a plant nursery.) It is acceptable to start onions inside if you wish, because they take a while to get to size although you can, technically, direct sow those as well. Our last frost date is usually between May 11 and May 20 here. Make sure and check your seed packets for more exact timing.
Do NOT start pumpkins or squash or any of the cool weather crops because it is pretty much just a waste of your time. Peas, beets, (most) onions, lettuces, turnips, kale, swiss chard and spinach do fine with direct sow and prefer the cool weather. It is nearly time to plant them outside by direct sowing. (I have already planted some of mine – hope I wasn’t just a bit too early – I couldn’t wait!) Some people start cucumbers inside, but I have found that, at least for me, I have had better luck with direct sowing on those as well as beans, pumpkins and squash when things warm up (very late May or early June). Good luck and happy planting!