Garden Guide: Plant these seeds now for a tasty spring & summer garden 

February is the perfect time to start some plants from seed indoors.

Alex Calamia

Feb 21, 2024, 11:17 AM

Updated 60 days ago

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I hate to rush the seasons, but late winter is the time to "think spring!" February is the perfect time to start some plants from seed indoors. I have to emphasize it’s time to start some plants from seed in February. While some plants require a head start, others will suffer if they sprout too early. I outline a few below. 

Start cold-hardy leafy greens 

You have to wait until the last frost to plant summer veggies outside, but you can harvest gorgeous leafy greens weeks earlier.
There are dozens of leafy greens that can survive frosts, and many of them actually taste really sweet after a few frosts. I start leafy plants from seed indoors in mid or late February and plant them outside in Mid-March when daytime temperatures are frequently hitting 50F and nighttime freezes are rare. 
They can be sown directly in the ground in March, but I start the seedlings under grow lights indoors one month earlier. Seedlings are prone to issues with pests and are less cold tolerant.  A head start will help them out. 
All the plants in the list below can survive temperatures down to 25F:
  • Cilantro & parsley 
  • Broccoli & cauliflower 
  • Kale & cabbage 
  • Lettuce & arugula 
  • Spinach 
These plants are great for the spring and autumn garden, but suffer in summer. Hot weather triggers these plants to bloom. When they bloom, the leaves become tough and bitter. There is no coming back from the blooming stage - After they bloom, they die. It’s best to get these plants in the ground by early April. Most of them will not survive our heat in July. 

Start summer crops that are slow to mature

Some summer crops can rapidly go from seed to fruit, but we’ll talk about those next. The plants you need to start indoors in late winter need at least 3 months to start to produce. Our growing season is too short for these to reach full production until late summer.
Warm loving plants require more sunlight when they’re young than any windowsill can give them this time of the year. If you invest in grow lights, you can start summer fruits and veggies indoors, but otherwise it’ll be tough to keep these happy.
These plants below should get started inside 2 months before the last freeze:
  • Eggplant 
  • Large fruiting tomatoes 
  • Annual flowers 
  • Peppers 
  • *Basil
(*Basil can be started from seed directly in the ground, but they won’t reach full productivity until late summer. Starting two months early inside will maximize their growing season.)
If you don’t want to do the dirty work with these, that’s okay! Growers are doing it for you and will have seedlings ready for your garden at local nurseries in May.  

Do not start summer crops that mature quickly 

I start fast growing plants in small containers in April, about 2 weeks before they are ready to go in the ground. Containers warm up more quickly and they can be brought indoors on cold nights. I do not start these plants any earlier than this because they grow very quickly and their growth will be stunted inside the house or in small containers. 

Wait until the weather warms up for these plants: 

  • Sunflowers 
  • Squash / zucchini
  • Melons 
  • Tomatoes 
  • Cucumbers 
  • Cherry tomatoes 
This is not a complete list of plants to grow or avoid but will hopefully give you an idea of all the possibilities. If you’d like to submit questions, visit our Q&A section on our website.I’ll try to share them live on News 12! 


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