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Indoor Seed Starting: Best Bets

Starting your seeds indoors allows you to choose from a greater variety of vegetables. Seeds are also a lot less expensive than purchasing starts from the garden center. And, it's fun!

Below are a few helpful tips on what types of seeds are right for indoor seed starting and which ones aren't. Also, I've listed some links to planting calendars that will give you some guidance on when to start your seeds for the Seattle/Puget Sound area.

Take a class with Marni and learn all you need to know to get started growing! Learn all about soils, trays/containers, lighting, transplanting, and more. Seed starting classes are offered annually, generally beginning in February.

Cool Crops

Cool Crops are started in late winter for early spring plantings and again in late summer for fall planting and overwintering crops.

Lettuce, greens (can also be direct seeded)

Swiss chard

broccoli/cabbage/cauliflower/kohlrabi/mustards/ brussels sprouts

Herbs, perennial


Flowers/Herbs, annual: cilantro, dill, parsley, calendula


Leeks/onions (see note below)

Note about Leeks & Onions: You can plant directly into garden after hardening off. Can also be started directly in potting soil (versus seedling mix). Trim tops if they get too tall before transplanting.

Heat Lovers

Summer crops aka heat loving crops are best to start indoors due to our short summer season. These crops need a long hot summer to thrive so starting them indoors in March gives them a head start. These crops will benefit from being "up potted" to progressively larger pots. For example: starting the seeds in seed starting mix and then, after they get the first set of true leaves, potting up to 4" pots in potting soil and then into gallon pots.







Larger Seeded Summer Crops

Seed these in 4-inch pots or paper pots (see info below) directly in potting soil. By spring the weather outside may be warm enough to direct seed some of these as well. Check your seed packet for the ideal germination temperature or see resources below.

Artichoke/Cardoon (can be started in late winter)

Peas (can also direct seed in late February - March)


Sunflowers: paper pots preferred

Cucumbers: paper pots or tplant within three weeks of germinating

Squash: paper pot or tplant within three weeks of germinating




*requires germination temps above 65 degrees or more

What's a Paper Pot?

Make your own ecofriendly compostable pots for seeding things like sunflower, squash and cucumbers. The pots in the photo to the left are easily made from recycled newspaper. Just google 'newspaper pots garden' and you will find a bunch of videos showing you how!

After the plant has grown two sets of true leaves, plant the whole thing paper pot and all! This means less disturbance for the plant roots and healthier plants.

Direct Seed Only

Below is a list of crops that are best to seed directly in the garden

These veggies do best planted directly into your garden. Root vegetables do not like to have their tap roots disturbed so do not do well being transplanted. Fast growing vegetables like radish and spinach are ready to harvest quickly and also germinate in cool temperatures so there is no need to start them indoors.

Root Vegetable/Tap rooted veg:

Fast growing veg:


Corn Salad






Pac Choi/Asian greens


Lettuce (can be started indoors or direct seeded)


Soil Temps & Planting Depth: Territorial Seed planting chart

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