A Zone 5/6 Seed Starting Schedule can start as early as January with lettuce & other greens. March & April are the months for starting most of your crops!
First off let’s start out with me giving you an important link. This post is meant for those of you living in Zones 5 and 6. If you don’t know what your garden zone is go to this post to find out!
Today’s post is by request! A Zone 5/6 Seed Starting Schedule. One of my readers who lives fairly close by in our “neck of the woods” as she put it, asked for a breakdown of when I get seeds started indoors.
Please keep a couple of things in mind:
First, this schedule would be for someone who lives in a warm zone 5 or zone 6 (we live in zone 6 but because we are so close to the river and the lowest part of the valley we are really more zone 5).
Second, we have cold frames and hoop houses to offer protection to some of our earliest spring and latest fall plantings so if you don’t have a way to protect your seedlings you will want to skip the really early plantings of lettuce.
A couple of other guidelines for this Zone 5/6 Seed Starting Schedule. I try to time all my seedlings so that they spend no more than 6 or 7 weeks indoors. Usually 6 weeks under the lights and another week outdoors hardening off, any more time than that and you will stunt the plants because they will be all root bound in the pots. We love lettuce for our salads. Every year I set out with a plan to plant about 8 lettuce plants every 3 weeks. That’s always the plan, not always the reality. When we do hit that goal it gives us a couple of heads of lettuce to eat per week. If you don’t like lettuce that much adjust your plan accordingly.
Here’s our zone 5/6 seed starting schedule
|Plant Date||Plant Type||Plant Outside|
|1/15||Lettuce (for Cold Frame)||2/26|
|2/5||Lettuce (for Cold Frame)||3/19|
|2/5||Pac Choy, Swiss Chard||3/19|
|2/5||Flowers – Pansies||4/5|
|2/19||Broccoli, Cabbage, Kohl Rabi, Kale||4/2|
|2/19||Tomatoes, Early Girl & Sunsugar (for Wall-o-Waters)||4/2 to 4/16|
|2/19||Lettuce (No Cold Frame needed)||4/2|
|3/12||Lettuce (No Cold Frame needed), Celery||4/23|
|3/17||Flowers – Petunia, Snap Dragons, Impatiens||5/17 to 6/1|
|3/26||Peppers, Celery, Tomatoes, Herbs||5/15|
|4/2||Lettuce (Switch to summer crisp varieties)||5/14|
|4/5||Flowers – Marigold||5/17|
|4/17||Flowers – Zinnia, Morning Glory||5/17|
|4/23||**Melons, Pumpkins, Squash, Cucumbers||5/15|
|4/23||Lettuce (Switch to summer crisp varieties)||6/4|
|5/14||Lettuce (Switch to summer crisp varieties)||6/25|
|6/4||Lettuce (Switch to summer crisp varieties)||7/16|
|6/18||Kale, Swiss Chard, Kohl Rabi, Broccoli, Cabbage||7/30|
|6/25||Lettuce (Switch to summer crisp varieties)||8/6|
|7/16||Lettuce (Switch to summer crisp varieties)||8/27|
|8/1||Lettuce (back to cool weather types)||9/15|
|8/1||Chinese Cabbages (Totsoi, Pak Choy, etc.)||9/15|
|8/21||Lettuce (back to cool weather types)||10/7|
|** This is optional, based on the space I have.|
|All these plants can be direct seeded later as well|
So there it is. Of course this is based off my experience and what has worked best for our garden, I’m sure some of my gardening friends may have different dates. I’ve been growing my own vegetable seedlings for years, my flower experience is much more limited so I won’t swear by those dates (yet). This year we really want to add a lot of color to our yard so we will be growing a lot more of our own flower seedlings, so I should have a lot more experience next year!!
A few other comments
1. If you don’t have a cold frame or hoop house (why don’t you!!) then you really wouldn’t need to worry about getting anything started until mid February.
2. I don’t always get melons, cucumbers and squash planted indoors. If you do try them you should only plant them about 3 weeks early. You want your seedlings to be very small with only 3 or 4 true leaves, anything larger won’t transplant well. But in our area all of those plants do well when seeded directly in mid May so it’s not the end of the world if I don’t get seedlings.
3. Lots of people question why I start all my lettuce indoors when lettuce does so well when sown directly. It’s really just my preference, I get a much better “finished product” when I start them indoors. Also starting them indoors allows me 6 more weeks of growing something else outside in the garden while the lettuce is getting started indoors.
As you can see from this zone 5/6 seed starting schedule, our seed starting operation is pretty busy from January until October, but growing my own seedlings saves us a ton of money and time. I hope this helps!!
Would you like to learn more about seed starting? Well why not take our online video course. Follow this link to learn more about the course!
**Note: I’ve had some requests for a link to a Zone Map so you can look up your zone where you live. Here’s the link: