Starting seeds indoors zone 6

Indoor Seed-Starting Tips and Zone 6 Seed Starting Calendar

Make sure you label your seedlings as soon as you plant them; you may think you will remember two months from now what was where, but likely not! Now is also a great time to start keeping a journal. Start tracking what you planted when so you can review next year what worked well to repeat and what didn’t work so well to tweak.

Your seedling’s first leaves are not “true” leaves, think of them as baby teeth. The second set of leaves are their true leaves. They are ready to be hardened off when they have their first set of true leaves. Seedlings must be hardened and not just thrown outside. You take them out a little at a time, gradually increasing their exposure to sun and cold, only during the daytime. I try and plant when there is a warm spell forecasted to minimize the shock.

There are great selections of herbs and veggies at nurseries and big box stores nowadays so you have great options just waiting until spring is officially here and picking up what looks good at your nearby store in a couple of months. This is also a great back up if your first seed starting adventure goes a little awry.

Indoor Seed Starting Calendar for Zone 6 Gardens

End of January into February is seed starting time indoors. I have outlined by month the plant seeds to start indoors between now and April for our Zone 6 garden.

Many big box stores will begin getting in their seeds this month. There are great varieties that can be ordered on line. See my blog side bar for the seed companies that I really like to order from.


Seed packets will tell you how far in advance of your last frost date to start your seeds indoors. Here is a web page to look up your last frost date:

January and February are cold season crops seed starting time. March and April is the time for warm season veggie and herbs to get their indoor start.
10-12 Weeks Prior (end Jan/beginning of Feb in our Zone 6 garden)





Beans (dry & lima)












Fruit trees & bushes















Summer savory



8-10 Weeks Prior (mid-February in our Zone 6 garden)

Bee balm




























Lemon verbena








Summer squash









Winter squash


You can also start perennial flowers indoors as well. For any plant, look at the seed packet for when to plant according to your frost date. Then back up the time from there on when to start indoors. Typical seed starting is 6-8 weeks prior to the plant out date.

For more tips, check out my blog:

It’s time to start seeds indoors for early crops, such as leeks, onions, lettuce, cabbage and broccoli. You may also want to start seeds for annuals and perennials that can be planted outdoors before the last frost (around April 15 or later for Zone 6). Organize your seed packets according to planting date (count back from the date when transplants may be set out) and start seeds about a month to six weeks ahead. Start seeds in starter kits with greenhouse lids or in trays of potting soil under plastic wrap (use plant markers to hold it off the soil). Move the kits or trays under grow lights and remove the lids or plastic wrap when the little plants have all peeked out.

Click to find your zone.

Vegetables and Fruits

On mild days, prune grapes and train lateral branches onto an arbor from a main stem. Keep each plant to two or three main laterals per side.

You may also prune apples and pears now if you didn’t get to it in January. Get the pruning done before buds begin to swell. Cut out water spouts, broken or diseased wood and crossing branches, maintaining a strong central leader and strong lateral branches.

With pears, hang weights from side branches to encourage horizontal growth. (Thomas Jefferson was fond of keeping long straight branches pruned from his apple trees to use as supports for peas and pole beans in the spring. If you want to try it, cut side branches and store them under a porch or somewhere dry until needed in the spring. Then use them to make teepees by tying three or more poles together at the top and shoving the bottoms into the earth. Plant peas or beans near each pole and watch them climb!)

Cut dead and diseased canes of your berry brambles to the ground and remove them from the garden. Do not add to your compost, as insects and disease overwinter in the old canes. (Many people burn them.)

Examine and reinforce the framework of trellises and arbors.

Check for over-wintering pests and apply dormant oil if needed.

Garlic can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked.

If you have saved vegetable seeds from your past seasons’ bounties, be aware that different varieties of vegetables stay viable for different lengths of time. Last year’s seeds should perform well for you.

Onion, spinach, parsnip seeds are typically good for 1 to 2 years. Corn, okra, and peppers last up to 3 years. Beans, broccoli, carrots, kohlrabi and pea seeds last 3 to 5 years. Beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, pumpkin, squash, and tomato may last 4 to 6 years.

The success of your saved seeds depends on how you have stored them. A cool, dark, dry location will keep the seeds in a dormant state, plus resist mold and mildew.

Prepare beds for peas, potatoes and other early crops.

If your strawberries did not perform well last season, you may need to consider renovating the bed to allow the younger plants to take over. You may also follow these instructions to develop a new bed to start growing strawberries for the first time:

happtotakephoto /

–As soon as the soil can be worked, prepare a new bed with compost-rich soil and amend with lime, if needed, to get the pH from 6.0 to 6.5. Make sure the bed is either raised or in an area with good drainage. Strawberries will not tolerate wet feet. Nor will they tolerate drought very successfully, so make sure there is plenty of organic matter in the soil to hold moisture. Improve drainage with expanded shale or vermiculite.

–Incorporate 5-10-10 fertilizer according to the instructions on the package into the top six inches of soil about two weeks before planting. After danger of frost is past, either buy new plants or snip the runners from old plants and replant them in the new bed. This should be done about every third year to keep the berries coming. Remember you will need to keep them watered once hot, dry summer weather comes.

Each strawberry plant will typically produce about a quart of strawberries per year. A minimum of 6 to 7 plants per person should be planted. If you plan on freezing your strawberries, plant at least 10 plants per person.


If starting your next season’s liatris and gaillardia from seed, start indoors this month. Then, after fear of frost is gone and the ground is workable, transplant your seedlings to a light soil, rich in compost and in full sun.

At the end of the month, when the soil is warming, sow the following annuals: alyssum, carnation, cosmos, impatiens, larkspur, marigold, poppy, verbena, and zinnia.

Plant hollyhock seeds in February through March (or September through October). The temperature needs to be around 60 degrees for seeds to germinate. Leave seeds on the surface of the soil, very lightly covered with compost, as they need sunlight to germinate. They may not bloom for a year, so be patient.

Plant perennial seeds from delphinium and lupine. If your area has snow, wait until you can see the ground below it.

Plant heuchera and bare root roses at the end of the month, if the soil is workable. (Plant several garlic cloves near your roses, too.)

If you are looking for a low growing, flowering ground cover for a lightly shaded area, consider the many varieties of ajuga. With their delicate purple or blue bloom spikes, they are hard to resist.


If the weather is mild, trees and shrubs may still be planted this month while they are still dormant.

Some maples and poplars send out horizontal roots that run near or on the surface of the soil, which may pose a problem to sidewalks. If these trees are young, move them while they are still dormant.

A protective spray used to kill inactive pests on fruit trees and conifers this time of year is sold as dormant oil or scale emulsion. These are highly refined oils, sourced either from petroleum or from plants, that are spread uniformly on the bark of trees and shrubs. They coat non-mobile, dormant insects such as mites and aphids on the tree and smother them.

Follow manufacturers directions when mixing dormant oils.

It is best to spray before buds begin to swell, but the closer the application is made to bud break, the greater the effectiveness. Spray dormant oil on a clear day when the temperatures are expected to remain over 50 degrees F. for at least 24 hours. The ideal temperature for application is between 40 and 70 degrees. This will let the oil spread out over the tree and cover all crooks and crevices.


Over-watering and over fertilizing will stress your turf. That said, fescue lawns can be fertilized late this month with 16-4-8 NPK at a rate of 6.25 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Water in well. Don’t fertilize fescue after the weather begins to warm.

As we approach the final frost dates, plan to do a thorough inspection of your irrigation system. Evaluate the need for extra irrigation heads, and have a plan in place. Repair and replace needed parts in your existing system. Clean irrigation heads of any silt blockage.

Examine and repair, if needed, your mower and edgers. Have your new spark plugs handy.

Starting Seeds Indoors or in a Greenhouse

Posted February 23rd, 2017 by Garden & Greenhouse in

Spring is approaching and, for gardeners, this means a fresh start to another growing season. Many horticulturists choose to start seeds indoors or in a greenhouse in order to have plants ready to grow in the upcoming season. There are a few considerations every horticulturist should make before starting his or her seeds. Following a few simple guidelines will help make the seed starting experience both enjoyable and effective.


As with most things in life, timing is everything. It is important for a horticulturist to take into consideration his or her geographical location’s average last frost date. A quick search on the internet or call to a local greenhouse can help a gardener determine in which zone he or she lives. Here are the zones and their corresponding average last frost date:

Zone 1 – June 15th

Zone 2 – May 15th

Zone 3 – May 15th

Zone 4 – May 15th

Zone 5 – April 15th

Zone 6 – April 15th

Zone 7 – April 15th

Zone 8 – March 15th

Zone 9 – February 15th

A good rule of thumb for starting seeds is to begin the germination process 6-8 weeks before your zone’s average last frost date. It is also important to consider the particular plant varieties being grown. For example, many ornamental flowers can be started earlier, around 8-10 weeks before the average last frost date. Cold sensitive plants that require warmer temperatures to grow properly, like tomatoes, basil and peppers, should be started a little later, around 6-8 weeks before the average last frost date.

Grow Medium and Planting Containers

It is very important to make or buy a seed starting medium that is specific for starting seeds. Regular potting soil is too heavy and potent for most seeds. Plug trays or peat pellets are great for starting seeds, but will require transplanting after the seedling has developed its second set of true leaves. I personally prefer using small plastic cups with small holes poked in the bottom for drainage. These small cups are big enough for the plant to establish a heathy root structure and can usually be used until the plant is placed outdoors or into its finishing planting container. Filling a tray with medium and planting multiple seeds should be avoided, if possible. Not only does this create a less than desirable root structure, it also makes it difficult to separate the seedlings without damaging them.

Some seeds are very small and are extremely difficult to plant individually. One technique is to use the eraser end of a pencil to pick up and gently bury the seed into the medium.

Temperature and Humidity

Proper temperature and humidity are necessary for healthy seedling development. A heat mat is a great way to supply heat to the seedling bed, which helps initiate the germination process. Not only do heat mats provide the warmth necessary for germination, they also help keep the temperature more consistent around the seedlings. All plants, especially seedlings, thrive on consistency. Although not completely necessary, many gardeners like to use a humidity dome on their seedling trays. Generally speaking, seedlings prefer a higher humidity than the ambient air. Humidity domes are an inexpensive and simple way to maintain higher humidity for the seedlings. Humidity domes, like heat mats, will also help maintain consistent atmospheric conditions.


If they are being grown indoors, seedlings should be placed as close to a window as possible. If they are being grown in a greenhouse, try to position the seedlings in an area that receives the most light. Many growers use an artificial light source for starting seeds indoors or in a greenhouse. If you have ever experienced leggy, stretched stems on seedlings, you have seen the results of inadequate lighting. An artificial light source above the seedlings will keep them compact and healthy. There are many different artificial light sources that can be used for seedlings, but T5 fluorescents are highly effective and relatively inexpensive. A light for starting seeds is a valuable tool and is well worth the investment.

Starting seeds in a greenhouse or indoors is a fun and easy way to get a head start on the growing season. Hobbyists who start their seeds at the right time, while also supplying the proper medium, atmospheric conditions and lighting will not only have higher germination success, but will also have many healthy seedlings ready to take on the upcoming growing season.

For more information visit

This post you will learn how to Starting Cucumber Seeds Indoors. If growing seedling has been intimidating you and you were buying it at the store you’re just wasting money. It’s much easier than you can imagine.

Cucumbers are warm weather plants and the soil temperature has to be 60 F (16 C) or warmer and days temperature at least 70 F (21 C) or warmer.

Since I will be planting these cucumber plants in my greenhouse I’m starting cucumber seedling way earlier than if I were to plant them outside.

If you are planning to plant the cucumber seedlings outside then you need to start planting them indoors about four weeks before planting.

I like to speed up the process of cucumber germination by soaking the seeds before sowing. Read more about it HERE. Soaked seeds in water for 48 hours germinate in 5 days after being planted.


Organic Cucumber Seeds

Seedling Starter Kit

Starter Soil Mix

Simple Steps

First thing first, fill container with seed starter mix or use organic potting soil mix (I get it at Costco for fraction of the cost). DO NOT use garden soil which often drains poorly and may carry disease. Gently press the soil to remove air pockets.

Next, use your finger to poke small holes one per seed about a quarter inch deep. Place one seed in each hole. Then sprinkle additional soil to cover the wholes with seeds about a half inch thick.

Once again gently firm the sprinkle soil mix and water lightly (DO NOT flood the container with water).

Finally, place a container in a warm full light place (I place on the window sill) about at least 70 F (21 C) to 80 F (27 C).

Check daily to keep the planting mix moist but not saturated. Once you see the first sprout keep the seedling at high light exposure or set on the window sill that has lots of direct sun.

Continue keeping the planting seed moist but not soggy.

Five days later after planting the white seed cucumbers sprouted and the green coated did not.

Nine days later after planting the longer cucumber plants were the white seeds and the shorter ones were the green coated seeds.

Starting Cucumber Seeds Indoors Keyword: backyard gardening, growing cucumbers, Starting Cucumber Seeds Indoors Author: Valya of The Farm Girl Blog Ingredients

  • Organic Cucumber Seeds
  • Seedling Starter Kit
  • Starter Soil Mix


  1. First thing first, fill the container with seed starter mix or use organic potting soil mix (I get it at Costco for fraction of the cost). DO NOT use garden soil which often drains poorly and may carry disease. Gently press the soil to remove air pockets.

  2. Next, use your finger to poke small holes one per seed about a quarter inch deep. Place one seed in each hole. Then sprinkle additional soil to cover the holes with seeds about a half inch thick. Once again gently firm the sprinkle soil mix and water it lightly (DO NOT flood the container with water).

  3. Finally, place a container in a wart full light place (I place on the window sill) about at least 70 F (21 C) to 80 F (27 C).

  4. Check daily to keep the planting mix moist but not saturated. Once you see the first sprout keep the seedling at high light exposure or set on the window sill that has lots of direct sun.
  5. Continue keeping the planting seed moist but not soggy.

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Growing cucumbers from seed is fun and easy! You can start the seeds indoors, or direct sow them into your garden. In this post, I will give you all the details you need, and show you exactly how to plant cucumber seeds, step-by-step.

Cucumbers are one of the easiest vegetables to grow from seed, and I love growing them in my garden every year. They are delicious in fresh garden salads, and making homemade pickles is one of my favorite things to do every summer.

Keep reading to learn exactly how to grow cucumbers from seed in this step-by-step guide, and enjoy homegrown cucumbers all summer long.

How To Grow Cucumbers From Seed

Cucumbers are very fast growing and super easy to grow from seed. Since cucumbers grow so fast, I plant the seeds directly into my garden after all chance of frost is gone in the spring.

Planting the seeds directly in the garden makes it super easy since you don’t have to worry about caring for the seedlings indoors or transplanting them into your garden.

But you can also start the seeds indoors if you prefer. Below I have included instructions for both methods of planting cucumber seeds.

In case you’re wondering, a few of my favorite cucumber varieties to grow are Marketmore, Homemade Pickles, and Baby Persian. Lemon cucumbers are really fun to grow, too.

Cucumber seed packet

Where To Grow Cucumbers

Cucumbers can be grown anywhere in the garden from full sun to part shade. The more sun they get, the better they will produce.

They like rich, fertile soil to grow their best. You can amend your soil with compost or aged manure before planting cucumber seeds. I also like to add organic granular fertilizer to my garden beds to give my vegetables a boost.

Cucumbers are vine crops, so it’s best to grow them on a trellis to keep them up off the ground. Growing them vertically will help protect the cucumbers from pests, keep them cleaner, and they will grow straighter, too

Try growing them on a lean-to style trellis, or make your own DIY cucumber trellis arch. You can learn how to grow cucumbers on a trellis here.

Growing cucumbers from seed

When To Plant Cucumber Seeds

Plant cucumbers seeds directly into your garden a week or two after your last frost in the spring, once the soil warms up. You could also start cucumber seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before your average last frost date.

If you choose to start your cucumbers seeds indoors, make sure to use a high quality seed starting soil mix, and use a grow light so the seedlings don’t grow tall and leggy. Learn how to make your own DIY seed starting mix here.

I also recommend sowing cucumber seeds in plantable pots rather than regular seedling trays. Cucumber seedlings don’t love being transplanted, and the plantable pots will keep the roots from being disturbed.

Getting ready to plant cucumber seeds

How To Plant Cucumber Seeds

Direct sowing cucumber seeds: In the garden, plant your cucumber seeds about 1 inch apart, and about 1/2″ deep.

You can either make a hole in the dirt and drop the seeds into it, or you place the seeds on top of the soil and gently press them in. (Make sure the soil is very loose if you choose option 2).

Direct sowing cucumber seeds

Starting cucumber seeds indoors: If you start the seeds indoors, plant one seed per cell in your seedling trays.

Since cucumber seedlings grow so fast, they will quickly outgrow the seedling trays. So it’s a good idea to pot them up as soon as they start to grow their first true leaves.

But instead of using seed trays, it’s better to just sow the seeds directly into plantable pots to make transplanting easier on the seedlings.

Plantable peat pots are a very popular option. But if you prefer something more sustainable you could use coco coir pots, or cow pots instead.

Plantable seedling pots aren’t required though. So, if you want something that’s reusable for repotting cucumber seedlings, small plastic pots are the perfect option.

After you’re done planting your cucumber seeds, water them well, and soon you’ll see the cucumber seedlings popping out of the ground! Cucumbers like a to be kept consistently watered, so never allow the soil to dry out completely.

Cucumber seedlings

Tips For Harvesting Cucumbers

When it comes to harvesting your cucumbers, every variety of cucumber will be a bit different, so make sure you read the seed packets for recommendations.

But, in general, cucumbers are best when they’re harvested before they get too large. When cucumbers grow too large, they get pretty seedy.

Cucumbers grow really fast (sometimes it seems like they grow overnight!), so check your plants daily for mature cucumbers.

To harvest cucumbers, make sure you cut them off the vine rather than trying to pull them off. Pulling cucumbers from the vine could damage or break the vine, and you don’t want that.

Cucumbers grown from seed

Growing cucumbers from seed is fun and super easy. This is a great one for kids too, because the seeds are fairly large and grow quickly. Plus, you can make tons of pickles with your harvest! Is there anything better than homemade pickles?

Do you want to learn how to start your seeds indoors? Then you need my Seed Starting eBook. It’s a quick-start guide that will give you what you need to start growing your own seeds indoors. !

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More Posts About Growing Seeds

  • How To Grow Peppers From Seed
  • Growing Radishes From Seed
  • How To Plant Lettuce Seeds
  • How To Grow Carrots From Seed

Share you tips for how to plant cucumber seeds in the comments section below.

GrowGuide: Growing Cucumbers

Seed Germination

There are two basic methods you can use to germinate your cucumber seeds:

  1. Germinate indoors in peat, paper or cowpots (most commonly used approach, but a little more work);
  2. Germinate outdoors via direct seeding into your soil (very easy, but you don’t get yields until later in the season since you get a late start).

*Note: if you’re germinating your cucumber seeds indoors, do not use plastic seed cells for cucumbers since you’re more likely to disturb their roots during the transplanting phase.

Choose whichever seed germination method (above) is best for you based on the time of year, your level of gardening experience and the resources you have available. This Cucumber GrowGuide shows you how to grow your cucumbers using #1 Germinate Indoors In Peat, Paper or Cowpots. If you choose #2 Direct Seeding Outdoors, just skip a few steps ahead in this GrowGuide to find the relevant instructions.

STEP 1: Find your last frost date here. Five to six weeks before your last frost date is the ideal time to start your cucumber seedlings indoors if you want to get an early jump on the growing season and get the largest possible yields. If: a) your last frost-date has already passed, b) your soil temperatures are at least in the mid-60s, and c) your local 10-day weather forecast does not have any temperatures forecast below 50 degrees, you’re probably better off direct-seeding your cucumbers outdoors.

STEP 2: Sow your tomato seeds ¼ inch deep in biodegradable peat/paper/cow pots. These pots will be placed directly in the ground during transplanting where they’ll biodegrade in your soil while causing virtually no disturbance to the sensitive roots of your cucumber plants. Place a plastic seed tray or an old cookie sheet underneath your indoor cucumber seedlings to keep water from dripping onto your floor or furniture. Also, do NOT fill your seed cells with soil from your garden, since this tends to harden into an impenetrable brick. Instead, find an organic seed-starting mix from a local nursery or gardening center. Make sure to label the cucumber pots (or rows of pots) as you go so you can keep track of the variety of seeds you planted. For our labels, we use either plastic strips or wooden popsicle sticks and write the cucumber variety on them with a permanent marker.

STEP 3: Place your seed trays in the warmest spot in your home. The ideal temperature range for cucumber seed germination is 70° to 95°F. At these temperatures, your cucumber seeds will germinate within 6 – 10 days. Many people use heat mats underneath their germination trays. If your cucumber seedlings are in temperatures between 60 – 70 degrees, your seeds may take an additional 1 – 2 weeks to germinate. To help with germination, water each seed pot every 24 hours to ensure the soil stays moist, but not too wet (if the pots appear dry or the plants appear “droopy,” water more frequently).

STEP 4: As soon as your cucumber seeds have germinated/sprouted above the soil surface, place them in front of a south-facing window in your home (e.g. the window that gets the most sunlight throughout the day). We don’t have a particularly sunny window in our home, so we use florescent grow lights hung overhead instead. It’s crucial that your seedlings get adequate light—an absolute minimum of six hours of direct light—otherwise they’ll quickly become weak and leggy. Tip: Periodically turn your seed trays so that the same side is not always facing towards the sunny window—this will prevent the side furthest away from the sun from getting leggy or stretching sideways towards the light.

STEP 5: The first two leaves on your cucumber seedlings are called “cotyledon” leaves (they’re round and thick). The next leaves that develop are the first set of “true leaves” (they’ll have a jagged-edge). About 10-14 days after germination, your cucumber seedlings will get their first true leaves. At this point, they’ll need to start getting nutrition immediately (seed starting mix doesn’t have fertilizer in it). You now have two choices: 1) Transplant your tomato seedlings into larger, 3-4 inch diameter cells containing organic “potting mix” (different from seed-starting mix which contains no fertilizer), or 2) Keep your seedlings in your seed-starting mix, and start lightly applying a water-diluted organic liquid fertilizer 1 – 2 times per day (we use organic fish emulsion but kelp and squid emulsion work well too). Warning: emulsion fertilizers smell bad for about 20 minutes after you apply them, so many people prefer to transplant their seedlings into a potting mix instead.

Next, keep a close eye on your seedlings to make sure they stay healthy: well-lit, well-fed and well-watered until your last frost date has arrived. You’re almost ready for transplanting outdoors…

Transplanting Outdoors

STEP 1: Outdoor direct sunlight is always more intense than either indoor grow lights or light filtered through a window. Many new gardeners make the mistake of immediately transplanting their plants outdoors into direct sunlight before “hardening them off.” This mistake can cause extreme sunburn that severely damages or kills your plants. To be safe, plan to harden your cucumber seedlings off outdoors over the course of a week. First, give them 1-2 days outdoors in a mostly shady spot. For days 3-4, move them into a slightly sunnier outdoor area, and so-on until day 7 when you finally acclimate them to a full day in the sun. Note: Be sure to bring your young cucumber seedlings indoors anytime temperatures are below 50°F (they can survive lower temperatures, but it may stunt their growth).

STEP 2: Many gardeners wait at least two weeks after their last frost date before planting cucumbers, since they’re very cold-sensitive plants. As stated earlier, before you transplant your cucumber seedlings outdoors, make sure to look at your local 10-day weather forecast on If you see any day or night temperatures forecasted to be at or below 55°F, hold off on transplanting. This tip has saved us quite a bit of heartache over the past few years as extreme weather and temperature fluctuations have becomes the “new normal.”

STEP 3: Dig a hole deep enough to bury the seedling pot up to the base of the stem of the plant. Do NOT try to remove the peat/paper/cow pot from around the cucumber seedling, since this may damage the roots. If you don’t have rich, healthy soil where you plan to place your cucumber plants, consider getting organic gardening soil from your local gardening center and add it to the soil around the planting spot.

STEP 4: Immediately after planting, give each newly planted cucumber seedlings a deep watering around the base of the plant.

STEP 5: Two final planting tips that will make your gardening much easier: 1) The Stick Trick – New transplanted seedlings are often “chopped down” by the aptly named “cutworms.” We’ve had 100% success stopping these pests. We simply find a stick roughly the same thickness as a toothpick and stick it in the ground right next to the stem of our seedlings. When the cutworms come along and feel around the seedling, it is tricked into thinking that the plant is too tough to cut down, so it moves along to its next victim. 2) Wood Chips/Mulch – We can’t overemphasize how important top-dressing your beds with wood chips or mulch is for building and maintaing healthy soil, regulating soil moisture & temperature, and blocking unwanted plants – aka “weeds.” After you plant your seedlings, make sure to put at least a few inches of mulch on top of the soil surface around your plants, if it’s not already there.

Sun, Soil, Water

Sun: Cucumber plants thrive in full-sun spots (8+ hours direct sunlight per day). Use a trellis or fence to let your vining cucumbers make maximum efficient use of your space while increasing airflow around the leaves. Also, planting cucumbers against a light-colored wall or fence can increase yields.

Soil: Cucumbers are fairly heavy feeders and prefer a soil pH between 6 – 7. The three techniques that have most drastically improved our soil health & fertility are: 1) “hugelkultur” ( to read about this technique), 2) polyculture plant guilds (see below), and 3) top-dressing our soil with 6 inches of wood chips/mulch twice per year in the fall and spring. Within a few short years, these techniques improved our soil fertility to the point that our plants (including cucumbers) now require no additional fertilizer and virtually no additional water throughout the growing season. Plan to build your soil fertility for the long-term, but if your soil is still “young,” you’ll likely need to add an organic, slow-release fertilizer when you first plant your cucumbers and/or apply an organic fertilizer several times throughout the growing season (fish emulsion, compost tea, etc).

Water: Cucumbers need approximately 1″ of water per week in normal summer conditions. If your soil is healthy, your plants have established their root systems, and rain is regular, you may not need to provide any additional water to your mature cucumber plants. If you do need to water, 1) water the base of the plants (not the leaves) in the morning (not in the evening), and 2) water deeply (shallow watering can lead to shallower root systems). Wet leaves, especially overnight, can increase the risk of fungal diseases like powdery mildew.

Helpful Guild Plants

Definition: A plant “guild” is polyculture plant system (multiple species planted together) purposefully designed to create symbiotic relationships between species, increase plant productivity and generate higher survival rates amongst the individual plants in the guild system. If you’ve ever visited a “wild” ecosystem (forest or prairie), you’ve unknowingly seen plant guilds. Like people, plants perform better in communities than they do as isolated individuals.

Common Pests & Diseases

During Seedling Stage
Indoor plants and seedlings are more susceptible to certain pests and diseases than outdoor plants. Common problems you might encounter during the germination and seedling stage of your cucumbers:

  • Aphids – Description: Small sap-sucking insects that proliferate on young plant stems and the underside of young leaves. Symptoms: Sticky leaves; curled leaves; weakened, limp or dying plants despite adequate water and nutrition. Organic Treatment: insecticidal soaps, horticultural oil sprays, organic insecticides (neem, pyrethrin, etc.). The more time you can get your seedlings outdoors, the less problems you’ll have from aphids. Aphids are a favorite snack for ladybugs, parasitoid wasps and other predatory insects.
  • White Flies – Description: Small, white flies that proliferate underneath leaves. Symptoms and Organic Treatment: Same as aphids (above).
  • Fungus Gnats – Description: Small dark-colored gnats; the small, white-colored larvae live in soil and eat the roots of young seedlings. Symptoms: Seedling growth rate slows and seedlings eventually die if untreated. Organic Treatment: For prevention, we’ve had success by mixing diatomaceous earth into our potting soil. For treatment after noticing a fungus gnat problem, we’ve had the most success by adding beneficial nematodes (specifically Steinernema feltiae or S. carpocapsae) to our potting soil.
  • Damping Off – Description: Death of young seedlings caused by fungal disease. Symptoms: Young seedlings whither and die, sometimes suddenly. Organic Treatment: Prevention is the best cure for damping off. Use a sterile potting mix; sterilize your reused seed trays before using them; occasionally water your seedlings with a 10 parts water: 1 part hydrogen peroxide mixture; don’t overwater; try to keep your seedlings in an area with good air flow; if a seedling or seedling tray gets damping off, immediately remove it from your seedling area.

After Transplanting Outdoors

The most common problems reported with cucumbers are:

  • Powdery Mildew – Description: Any number of fast-growing, airborne fungal diseases. Symptoms: White powdery patches on leaves. Left untreated, powdery mildew causes the leaves to brown and dry out, eventually killing the plant. Organic Treatment: Powdery mildew can be easily prevented using organic methods. Make a mixture of milk and water (30% milk to 70% water is fine) and spray it evenly on the surface of the plants on a sunny day. Any type of milk will work, skim or whole. This method has proven to be as effective as any fungicide, although scientists aren’t quite sure how it works (likely antiseptic effect resulting from the sun burning the fungus as its bound by the milk protein).
  • Cucumber Beetles – Description: Small striped or spotted, flying adult beetles that eat tender leaves and stems; underground larvae eat young roots. Symptoms: Holes in leaves, spotted or wilted leaves (cucumber beetles can be vectors for mosaic virus and bacterial wilt). Organic Treatment: Excellent information for prevention and treatment of cucumber beetles can be found here: National Sustainable Agricultural Information Service.

Remember: A healthy garden needs pests. Pest species provide food for beneficial species. A garden ecosystem that’s teeming with life will tend to hold the population of any one species in check. We’ve found that by focusing on improving our soil fertility and using polyculture plant systems that attract and support a wide variety of insects, we’ve virtually eliminated all pest and disease problems from our garden.

Please be thoughtful in your approach to these potential problems. Is your soil healthy and teeming with microbial life? Have you planted other beneficial plants throughout your garden system that might help with the problem? If you wait a few days, will the “pest” become the food of a predator? Observe your garden system and think holistically before taking any action that could disrupt the web of life (pesticides kill beneficial insects too, not just pest insects; fungicides kill beneficial funguses too, not just “bad” funguses; etc). Personally, we’d rather lose a plant than accidentally kill a colony of nearby bees.


You can pick cucumbers at virtually any size – the sooner the better. The more you pick, the more fruit your plants will set. Also, many cucumbers tend to become bitter if left on the vines too long. Pick lemon cucumbers BEFORE they turn yellow for ideal flavor and more tender seeds. To pick a cucumber, do NOT pull it off of the vine, as this may damage the plant. Instead, use sanitized clippers or scissors to cut the stem just above the cucumber. When we get big harvests of cucumbers, our favorite thing to make is cold-pickled cucumbers…They’re incredibly easy to make and they “taste like summer.”

Saving Seeds

Seed saving is a critical step for ensuring that our seeds are passed down from generation to generation, so please give it a try and also be sure to share your seeds with other people! It’s important to note that seeds you’ve properly saved from your own garden will be better adapted to your specific growing environment via natural epigenetic processes. So save your new, open-pollinated GrowJourney cucumber seeds as follows:

  1. Cross Pollination – Cucumbers can be cross-pollinated by other cucurbits. To make sure you’re producing a non-hybridized seed, either:
    1. Half Mile Radius – Don’t grow any other variety of cucurbit within a half mile radius, or
    2. Be a Bee – (our preferred method) Before the flowers have opened, cover both a male and female flower of the same variety with a well-secured paper or plastic bag to prevent pollinators from cross-breeding other varieties. (Female flowers are easily identified by their bulbous base which will eventually turn into a fruit.) Once the secured male and female flowers have opened, temporarily remove the bags and use a q-tip to extract pollen from the male flower and rub onto the interior of the female flower (like a bee!). Once you’ve pollinated the female flower, cover it back up with a bag until the fruit sets and loosely tie a small string around the stem so you can remember which fruit you’ve pollinated.
  2. Don’t Pick When Ripe – Let your seeding cucumber sit on the vine for at least five weeks after they’ve ripened to ensure mature seeds. The fruit will stop growing larger and its skin will become quite thick.
  3. Fermentation – Once you pick your seed cucumber, scoop or pour out its seeds and the gel-like substance surrounding them into a small glass or jar. Immediately label the jar so you know the variety of seed you’re saving.
  4. Add Water and Wait – Add a small amount of water (half cup or less depending on the size of your container). Then set your labeled container aside for 3-5 days in an indoor spot out of direct sun. We typically put a piece of plastic wrap with small holes punched in it over the top of our container, but you can also just leave the container open if you prefer. A layer of mold will form on the top.
  5. Separate the Seeds – After 3-5 days, your cucumber seeds will have fermented. First, remove the film of mold on the top. Then add a bit more water to the container and stir. The bad seeds will float, and the good seeds will sink. Carefully skim or pour off the bad seeds and gunk from the top of the water. Pour the good seeds through a fine mesh screen (a metal pasta strainer works well).
  6. Dry & Store – Place the seeds on a drying surface that they won’t stick to. A ceramic plate or cookie sheet works well (paper towels dry the seeds well, but tend to stick). Label the drying plates if you have multiple seed varieties. Give your seeds a couple of weeks to fully dry, especially if you live in a humid environment like we do. Once your seeds are fully dry, store them in an airtight container (add rice or silica packages to hold any moisture). You can also store the seeds in envelopes, although this will make them more susceptible to moisture damage over the course of several years.

Your new cucumber seeds can remain viable (e.g. able to be grown) for up to five years or longer. Plant and share them so the GrowJourney continues!

February Seed Starting Schedule

This February Seed Starting Schedule is targeted for those of you that live in the colder northern zones. (Zones 3 to 7). If you live in any of these Zones then February is the month to get serious about starting this year’s seedlings!

This post may contain affiliate links, clicking on an affiliate link won’t cost you any extra and will allow Stoney Acres to earn a small commission on any of your purchases.

This Post is great for Zones 5 and 6, are you looking for planting guides for a different zone? You will find them here:

  • February Planting Guide Zones 9 & 10
  • What to Plant in February Zones 7 & 8
  • Gardening in February Zones 3 & 4

I have done my best to make this February seed starting schedule as general as I can. Keep in mind that I can’t be all things to everyone. I’ve tried to give you a guide for each of the colder zones (zones 3 to 7)

My February seed starting schedule always starts with some leafy greens and ends with the first of my tomatoes. No matter where you live you can put together your own February seed starting schedule by deciding when you want to plant outdoors and then counting back 6 to 8 weeks.

You never want your seedlings in pots for more than 8 weeks, 6 weeks is usually better. So use that as your main guide when deciding what and when to plant. To learn a little more about starting seedlings check out this post. Want to learn a lot more about seed starting? Check out my video course!

Leafy greens

Anyone’s February seed starting schedule begins with some greens. The following are some ideas of varieties you can plant and when to get them started.


Look for hardy varieties, leaf lettuces do better than head lettuces this early in the year. Also despite the name summer crisp lettuces also do well in the early spring.


Spinach is very hardy and does well when planted early. Remember to use larger containers for spinach to help those tap roots transplant well.


Swiss Chard seedlings transplant well and are very hardy.


This nutritional powerhouse does very well when transplanted out in the early spring. (And it tastes better)

Asian Greens

Don’t forget to plant a few tatsoi, mizuna or bac Choy! These plants do great in the spring and are very frost tolerant!

Planting times for leafy greens

Zone 7 – You can start in early February planting seedlings for any of these greens.

Zones 5/6 – February 15th is a good target date unless you have a hoop house if so you can start earlier.

Zones 3/4 – You can get some leafy green seedlings started late in February, but you should plan on protecting them with a hoop house or cold frame when they go out to the garden.

Cole crops (Cabbage family)

I like to get all of my Cole family crops out as early as I can. With just a little protection from a hoop house or even some fabric row cover these hardy plants will do very well when planted in early spring.


Broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, cabbage, collards, and Brussels sprouts. Look for hardy varieties.

When to plant

Zone 7 – you can plant any time in February, the earlier the better!

Zones 5/6 – Around February 15th is the best time to get these out (plan on protecting young plants with row fabric)

Zones 3/4 – You might be able to sneak a few seedlings in at the end of February. But more likely you guys will need to wait till March, sorry!


Yes, you can get some tomato seedlings started in February. These will be cold-hardy varieties that will need the protection of a wall of water, or similar heat cap. You can plant a few tomatoes now, but this won’t be all of your plants for the season.

Zone 7 – Get some tomatoes started early in February to go out under protection, and start more the end of the month as well (remember 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost without protection)

Zone 5/6 – Mid to late February is a good time to get some tomatoes started but only if you plan on protecting them with walls of water.

Zones 3/4 – Sorry guys it’s just too early for most of you!

Onions and leeks

It’s not too late to get some onions or leeks started indoors. I usually try to get my onions planted about 6 or 7 weeks before my last frost date. You need around 8 weeks to grow onion seedlings, so if those dates work out still for you the get some started!!


This addition to the list comes from a reminder from a reader, Michelle! Most celery is a long season crop, needed 140 to 150 days of mostly cool weather to grow. So getting celery started in February is also a great idea! I would suggest mid-February for Zones 5,6,7 and wait till late February or early March for Zones 3 & 4.

I tried my best to give most of you in the colder climates some ideas of when and what to get planted this month. This February seed starting schedule isn’t perfect but should get you some ideas!

I would love your input, please comment below about what you are starting in February. Please be sure to include your Zone and what types of protection you use (I.e. cold frame, hoop house, etc)

What Seedlings Can You Start In February? [Planting Guide]

February is usually a dreary month, but it’s also a great month to get started on your garden (I have!). I’m sure you’re wondering “What seedlings can you start in February?,” and you might even think I’m a little bit crazy (I probably am).

February is a rather ambitious time of year to start seedlings, since in most northern states, the freezing temperatures can make it rather difficult to support thriving young plants.


This article is an excerpt from my best selling gardening book, Organic By Choice. It has everything you need to grow a garden that delivers you a full harvest.

On the other hand, in many southern states, the climate can be too unpredictable to determine if outdoor planting will actually be worth the effort.

With that being said, to answer the question “What seedlings can you start in February?,” there are particular plants that flourish well even during the icy months.

Before we get started with what seedlings you can start in February, there’s some general tips you should consider, since they’re the difference between success and a seedling flop:

  • The approximate planting date you can set young plants to harden off. You need to pick a date after the last frost of the spring that you’ll actually start planting in your outdoor garden, then count backwards 10 weeks. This is the date you should start your seedlings.
  • After placing each seedling, if you plan to use lights, set the lights about 2-3” above the tops of the plants, or pots (for seedlings that haven’t sprouted yet).
  • You need to first ensure that you have a hoop house or cold frame available to transplant the seedlings in.

So, now let’s answer the question “What seedlings can you start in February?” Here’s some answers:


This robust crop can easily withstand freezes and frosts. Start them out in warm zones (between 5-7), and transplant them after a good 8-10 weeks.


Although microgreens are not exactly what you think of when you imagine seedlings growing in your greenhouse, they STILL are something you can grow in February.

Spinach, flax, and bean sprouts are examples. When starting your microgreens, they must be sprayed consistently, and harvested at the micro stage. These goodies are perfect for salads and sandwich toppings!


These green treats resemble giant scallions, and are excellent for sub-freezing temperatures – they have proven to be cold-hardy down to approximately 5° Fahrenheit!


Broccoli seedlings do best the best when soil temperatures are between 60°-70°F, but can germinate as low as 40°F.

Start growing broccoli seedlings indoors about 6 weeks before the last spring frost. Set out the hardened-off seedlings when they are approximately 4 weeks old, and set the transplants 2-3 weeks before the last spring frost.


Cabbage prefers to only grow in cold temperatures (crazy, I know). Begin growing this leafy plant indoors approximately 6-8 weeks before the last spring frost.

Harden off the plants over a 7 day period, and transplant outdoors 2-3 weeks before the last spring frost.


Herbs are rather simple to plant and tend to, and the nice thing about herbs is they’re pretty portable throughout most stages of growing (so if you need to pull them inside because of a surprise cold-snap, no worries!).

Start planting herbs about eight to ten weeks before the last frost of the season, then transplant them into pots. Should another unexpected frost occur, the pots can simply be brought inside.

The best herbs to start growing at this time are basil, oregano, thyme, chives, and parsley. We love basil (yay pesto!), so that’s big on my list this year!


Sprout lettuce seedlings in a large 4” pot. Lettuce grows rapidly, so the larger pot means that it’s easier to accommodate it as it grows.

Use a cold frame to protect your baby lettuce if you plan to put the seedlings out in March before the weather has turned warm.


Spinach should be planted indoors in to prepare it for transplant in March.

Like with lettuce, spinach must be planted in a large 4” pot, however, this is more so due it the large size of its taproot rather than its rate of growth.

Because of its long taproot, spinach seedlings do not transplant easily (I honestly start spinach outside, directly sowing it into the soil to make things easy on myself, BUT you can start seedlings in February if you’re committed).

When you do transplant the seedlings, make sure you leave a lot of soil around the spinach roots.

Swiss Chard

This crop is quite cold-hardy and can be transplanted in March in a cold frame. Personally, I don’t like swiss chard so I grow it for Dahlia and the rabbits, who have a more appreciative taste for it.


Kale is an incredibly resilient plant and thrives in colder temperatures, and the funny thing about kale, is it tastes better if it’s been through a frost!

For a sweeter-tasting yield, start seedlings in February, and transplant to the garden in mid-March.

What are some other things you can do in February to get started for spring? Here’s what else we got going on:

  • Pruning apple and pear trees.
  • Pruning currants and gooseberries.
  • Pruning raspberry bushes

I’d like to hear from you!

Did you wonder “What seedlings can you start in February?” Which will you start? Leave a comment below!

Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.

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