Start Spring Seeds
Warm weather plants, such as chilly, cucumber, pumpkin and Tomato, grow and produce throughout the summer months
Most require a longer growing season than is available.
To get around this problem, the seeds are usually started indoors earlier, usually around August.
The seedlings are grown indoors until the soil is warm enough for them to be planted out.
This is usually Labour weekend in the North or the first weekend of November in the South.
Chillies generally require a rather long growing season, and so should be the first seed to be started - in August.
The seeds usually take less than a week to germinate but the seedlings are slow growing.
Starting in August gives the seedlings plenty of time to grow large enough when it comes to planting out time in late October.
For more information, see chilly culture notes.
Tomatoes and melons
Tomatoes are fairly quick growing and there is more flexibility then it comes to starting the seeds.
Generally, for main crop tomatoes, any time from August through to November is fine.
For early tomatoes, i.e., to have the tomatoes ready in time for Christmas, start the seeds in August.
For more information, see tomato culture notes.
Melon seedlings are very quick growing.
In warmer areas, the seeds can be started in August and the seedlings planted out in late September or early October.
In colder areas, start the seeds in September and plant out in late October / early November.
Melons tend to produce more female flowers when the weather is colder, so it is important to get them into the ground as soon as the weather allows.
For more information, see melons culture notes.
Annuals and perennials
A number of summer and autumn flowering annual and perennial seeds can be started in the spring.
These are usually more cold tolerant and can be started outdoors, preferbly in a cold frame.
More tender seeds should be started indoors or in a greenhouse.
Certain perennial seeds require a period of cold to germinate.
These should either be started in the autumn and over wintered in a cold frame.
They will start to germinate with the warming weather.
Alternatively, start them around August, and place in a sealed plastic bag.
Place the bag in the fridge (not freezer).
Remove at the first sign of germination.
Usually though, the seeds are placed in the cold for between 1-3 months.
They will germinate when they are removed from the fridge.
List of seeds to be started in August: colder areas, warmer areas.
List of seeds to be started in September: colder areas, warmer areas.
Seedlings are tender little plants and require more care.
Seeds are usually started in a humid environment and the emerging seedlings will need to be harderned.
This is done by gradually exposing them to drier and brighter environments.
Tender seedlings should remain either indoors or in the greenhouse until planting out time.
Make sure you have enough room to house the seedlings.
The faster growing seedlings often croud out other seedlings, and in the case of melons, become pot bound.
These should be grown separate from the slower growing seedlings, and be given more room to grow.