If you live in the North there are just not enough warm days for you to be able to sow all your vegetable seeds directly in the garden and produce a successful crop.
Quite a few of our favorite vegetables come from sub-tropical areas. There they have a long time to grow and hot weather so they can flower and make their fruits. These plants include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and okra.
Because these vegetable seeds come from warm climates, you need to wait until the danger of frost is passed before you can sow these seeds outdoors. Since that would be mid-May or even later in many areas and since in those areas colder weather and frost usually comes in September, there are just not enough days available to grow a crop that way.
The solution is to sow the vegetable seeds indoors at an earlier time, so that you are putting young plants into the vegetable garden after the danger of frost has passed. This head-start with an indoor garden will make a huge difference in having a successful harvest in colder areas.
Choosing the Seeding Date for Vegetable Seeds
How soon you sow will depend on the facilities you have for raising the young plants.
To grow larger plants you will need two things; good lighting and enough room.
If you are already have a hydroponic indoor garden you will have a good light system so light will not be a problem. Provided you also have the room you can raise plants to the stage when they are getting ready to flower, which is the ideal time to plant them out.
Most tomatoes need around 70 days to grow to the best size for transplanting. These plants will however be quite large by that time. They will need bigger pots and plenty of light from grow-lights or large, sunny windows. They will also need to be fertilized regularly. Try to produce sturdy, dark-green plants that may just be showing the first signs of flowering.
If you don’t have these ideal conditions then sow later and put out the smaller plants you will have grown – they should still do well but your final harvest will be a little smaller.
So depending on your growing facilities you should seed six to ten weeks before the average date of the last frost in your area. This map –> will give you a general idea, but ask some local gardeners to get better information.
Order your seeds early so you have them ready for those seeding dates. When storing your vegetable seeds, keep them in a dry, cool place.