It’s less than six weeks until the average last frost date here in the Austin area. If you haven’t started your seeds yet, it may be time to do so if you plan to get a head start on the growing season. Because Spring typically is short-lived before temperatures reach the nineties here in Austin, it is a good idea to start plants indoors and transplant them later. Doing so will ensure a healthier plant and faster/longer harvest.
As a general guide, here are recommendations I found online regarding more popular types of veggies. Below is the number of weeks seeds should be sown inside prior to transplanting into the garden. As always, don’t forget to account for a few days of hardening off, and remember that plants cannot go out until all danger of frost has passed. Some plants cannot go outside until the soil warms to 70 degrees.
Beans: direct sow, they grow too quickly
Broccoli/Cabbage/Cauliflower: 4-6 weeks
Carrots: direct sow, the taproot grows the most in first few weeks
Cucumbers: 4-5 weeks, no more than 5
Lettuce: direct sow or start 4 weeks before transplanting
Melons: 4 weeks at most
Peppers: 8 weeks – not until soil is 70 degrees (plan on April 1st)
Pumpkins/squash: no more than 3-4 weeks.
Spinach: 6-8 weeks
Tomato: 5-6 weeks
The planting window closes for some of the cooler crops like carrots, spinach and lettuce within the month, so those should be started right away. Spinach and lettuce transplants can probably still go into the ground through mid-March.
I’ve started broccoli, which I should be transplanting in two more weeks. I also have one spinach (1 out of 6 germinated!) that I’ll transplant the first week of March. I have more carrot seeds that I will direct sow this weekend in the space left behind by the carrots I harvested. I have eighteen lettuce plants going and I’ll transplant them in the next two weeks as well. I have also started a couple dozen pepper plants (habanero, jalapeno, cayenne and bell). I’ll have to transplant them one or two times before they are permanently placed in the garden.
All of these times can be a somewhat daunting task to remember and keep straight. This is why I record my sowing times and plan out the sowing schedule for the season ahead of time. This is also one of the major reasons why I keep this blog, as a reference tool/chronicle of what I’ve done in the garden.