Zone 5/6 Seed Starting Schedule

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!

Zone 5/6 Seed Starting Schedule

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.

Zone 5/6 Seed Starting Schedule 2

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.

Seed Starting Banner $15 450x375 copy

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!!

Zone 5/6 Seed Starting Schedule 3

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.

Zone 5/6 Seed Starting Schedule

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!!

Seed Starting Simplified

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:**

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Zone 5/6 Seed Starting Schedule

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  1. Christie January 22, 2014 8:23 pm Reply

    Thank you so much! I have learned a lot from your site and hope to eventually have cold frames and hoop houses.

  2. Fred January 27, 2014 11:53 am Reply


    What is your last and first frost dates?

    • Mr. Stoney January 27, 2014 8:29 pm Reply

      Hey Fred, how are you my friend??? Our last frost usually comes in around May 20th ish, but we have had frost as late June 5th. First frost is usually around October 5th but we have had as early as September 20th. Any time I plant before Mothers day I just assume it needs protection and I watch the weather like a hawk until June. Everything I plant in the fall is frost tolerant and really doesn’t have to have protection till November, but I usually put the frost protection out sooner than that. Just to keep the stress down on the plants.

  3. ChewelahMike January 28, 2014 8:22 am Reply

    You guys are doing a fantastic job. Your information is right on. Thanks for all your hard work. I garden north of Spokane, Washington. A zone 5 most of the time. I get frost, like you, as late as the first of June and as early as Labor Day. I put in a 26X48 high tunnel last summer. I was harvesting lettuce, chard, beets, and carrots until December 15th.In fact, I harvested carrots yesterday. Wow they were so sweet! What a wonderful addition. Iam looking forward to this years tomatoes, winter squash harvesting with the late summer frost protection of the high tunnel. I will start my lettuce, golden beets, chard next week in my small green house, then start setting them out in the high tunnel in March.
    Thanks again for your articles! Keep them coming.
    You’ll do fine with your new gardening classes!

    • Mr. Stoney January 29, 2014 7:51 am Reply

      Oh I would love to have a large hoop house, but I just don’t have the space here at the new house. So mini hoop houses and cold frames for me!! Thanks so much for reading, be sure to tell your gardening friends!!

  4. Ken January 9, 2017 11:03 pm Reply

    What do you mean by zone??

    • Mr. Stoney January 10, 2017 8:24 am Reply

      Ken, garden “zone” is a term used to describe the temperature range for your area. Ultimately it is determined by the minimum low temperature in the winter. In the US a map system has been put together to help us know what zone we live in. You can see a link to it at the bottom of the post. The Zone map is not a perfect system that is for sure. But it gives those of us here in the US a starting point to know when to plant and what plants will survive. It looks like you are in the UK. I’m not sure what system other countries use to determine planting times, but if you do a little research I’m sure you will find some info for your country and area. If I were to guess, I would think that most of the UK would fall into what we in the US consider zones 4 and 5 (and maybe 6). But that is totally a guess on my part as I don’t have more than just a general idea of your weather conditions.

  5. Amy January 5, 2018 9:13 am Reply

    I live in a zone 6A area that is more like zone 5, as you describe. I just got a cold frame and would like to start flowers in the cold frame (not in the house first). Do you have much experience with this? I am trying to figure out timing.

    • Mr. Stoney January 5, 2018 10:06 am Reply

      I have 3 cold frames, but I don’t do a lot of seed starting in them. I do plant early spring veggies in them and those seeds usually go in towards the end of February. I’d suggest getting a soil thermometer and testing your soil temp inside. Once it’s around 60 or 65 most seeds will germinate.

      • Amy January 6, 2018 5:24 pm Reply

        Thank you for your response. I guess I might have a little trial and error period!

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