Seeds through the Year

I understand why most people only think about seeds in spring, but for serious seed-lovers, there’s something seedy to think about every month of the year. Here, I’ll give you an idea of what my month-by-month to-do list looks like for my southeastern Pennsylvania garden, beginning in January for convenience. (I’ll also give the equivalent meteorological seasons here, so you’ll have a better understanding of how I use them in my seed descriptions and germination information.) Keep in mind that the schedule will vary if you live in a different climate from mine.

January (mid winter)

  • Finish outdoor sowing of perennial and woody-plant seeds that need chilling
  • Finish ordering seeds of any annuals and edibles I missed earlier
  • Finish cleaning fall-harvested seeds

February (late winter)

  • Start direct-sowing seeds of cool-season annuals, like poppies (Papaver) and larkspur (Consolida ambigua)
  • Set up plant lights and gather any needed seed-sowing supplies, like growing medium and labels
  • Start artificial chilling period (in refrigerator) for any remaining hardy seeds I forgot to sow outdoors

March (early spring)

  • Direct-sow seeds of cold-tolerant annuals and edibles, like garden peas (Pisum sativum) and sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus)
  • Start indoor-sowing of slow-growing annuals and tender perennials (early to mid-March), as well as perennials that can flower the first year with an early start
  • Start indoor sowing of most summer annuals and edibles, like peppers and tomatoes (mid- to late March)
  • Check seeds that are chilling in the refrigerator for signs of sprouting; remove and pot up any that are starting to germinate

April (mid spring)

  • Finish indoor sowing of fast-growing annuals and edibles, like marigolds (Tagetes) and zinnias
  • Start hardening off indoor-started seedlings of cold-tolerant plants
  • Check seeds that are chilling in the refrigerator for signs of sprouting; remove and pot up any that are starting to germinate

May (late spring)

  • Start collecting seeds of spring ephemerals; clean, then store moist
  • Start outdoor sowing (in pots) of fast-growing annuals for filling holes in the summer garden
  • Figure on Mother’s Day for average last frost date
  • Start planting out hardened-off most indoor-raised seedlings (mid- to late May)
  • Direct-sow fast-growing annuals and edibles
  • Pot up any remaining seeds that were chilling in the refrigerator

June (early summer)

  • Finish collecting seeds of spring ephemerals; clean, then store moist
  • Start collecting seeds of early perennial, spring bulbs, and cool-season annuals
  • Start shopping for seeds of early-blooming perennials and wildflowers
  • Sow seeds of biennials, like honesty (Lunaria annua), in pots outdoors
  • Direct-sow fast-growing annuals and edibles
  • Continue outdoor sowing (in pots) of fast-growing annuals for summer fillers or fall pots
  • Plant out heat-loving annual and hardy perennial transplants (early June)

July (mid summer)

  • Shop for seeds of early-flowering annuals and perennials
  • Start sowing seeds of early-flowering winter annuals, like blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia verna)
  • Sow freshly harvested seeds of hellebores (Helleborus) and other early-flowering perennials in pots outdoors
  • Collect seeds
  • Clean seeds

August (late summer)

  • Start shopping for seeds of biennials and summer-flowering perennials
  • Plant out biennial seedlings
  • Sow seeds of later-flowering winter annuals, like giant collomia (Collomia grandiflora)
  • Collect seeds
  • Clean seeds

September (early fall)

  • Shop for seeds of summer-flowering annuals, biennials, and perennials
  • Finish sowing seeds of winter annuals (early to mid-September)
  • Collect seeds
  • Clean seeds

October (mid fall)

  • Start checking online seed sources for their newly harvested seeds of all types
  • Start sowing seeds that need winter chilling in pots or milk jugs (late October)
  • Clean seeds

November (late fall)

  • Continue checking online seed sources for their fresh seed harvest
  • Sow seeds that need winter chilling outdoors in pots or milk jugs
  • Clean seeds

December (early winter)

  • Finish main seed shopping
  • Sow seeds that need winter chilling outdoors in pots or milk jugs
  • Clean seeds
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