My Planting Schedule: Spring 2021

I wrote about what I’m planning to grow next year. I already started the parsley and chervil to test out my seed-starting set up.

Since that is working, I’m now going to figure out when should I start the other seeds.

I got the California Master Gardener Handbook out of the local library. Here is what it says for each of the plants I’m planning to grow (these are “recommended planting dates” for the “North and North Coast region”):

  • Tomatoes – May
  • Cucumbers – April to June
  • Peas: Jan – April
  • Beans: May-June
  • Carrots: Jan – May and June-Aug
  • Beets: Feb – Aug
  • Summer squash: May – June
  • Winter squash: May
  • Onions (green) – April-Jul
  • Onions (bulb) – Jan-March

The month of May seems really late to be staring tomato seeds in zone 9b, doesn’t it? In the “Tomato” section of the book, they say to start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before your last frost date. Our last frost date is February 22….6-8 weeks before that is Dec 28 – Jan 11. So, am I supposed to start the seed at the beginning of January and then wait 5 months before planting them out in the garden in May? That doesn’t seem right.

I’m going to use my “gardening intuition” (ha) and pick planting dates that seem reasonable to me. I’ll learn what works and what doesn’t and I’ll adjust accordingly in years to come.

  • Early January: start onions (both bulb and green onions) indoors
  • Mid January: start echinacea indoors
  • Late January: start sweet peas indoors and direct sow peas (snow peas/snap peas) outdoors
  • Early/mid February: start tomatoes, cucumber, basil and zinnia seeds indoors
  • Late February: start winter and summer squash indoors; direct sow carrots and beets outside
  • Early March: direct sow cilantro, marigolds, and pole beans

I know some gardeners will look at this list and scoff, but I’m sticking with it. I think having an imperfect planting schedule, is better than no planting schedule, because without a planting schedule I might not get seeds in the ground at all.

If you’re curious, here’s some of my logic for my planting schedule:

  1. I’ll use our “last frost date” of February 22nd for my timing
  2. Aim to plant tomatoes in late March once soil has warmed up a bit? So start 8ish weeks prior… = early February
  3. Cucumbers, basil and zinnia seem like they’d like the conditions that tomatoes like, so I’ll use the same planting schedule for them
  4. Peas should be direct sown and tolerate the cold, so late January is ok, I guess?
  5. Beans also should be direct sown, but do not like cold soil (they will rot before they germinate if the soil is too cold), so wait until the soil is warmer to direct sow them (early March?)
  6. Carrots and beets should be direct sown, and they reasonably cold tolerant, I think?
  7. Some say summer and winter squash should be direct sown; others say you can start indoors to get a head start. I started seeds in pots and transplanted them last season, and that seemed to work well. I’ll start the seeds indoors, but transplant them outside after only 3-4 weeks. I want to plant them outside in mid-March (after our last frost), so start the seeds inside in late February
  8. Cilantro is cold tolerant, but should be direct sown after last frost?
  9. Onions should be started sooner rather than later. I want to start onions inside and let them put on quite a bit of growth before transplanting. This might be the wrong way to do, but I’m gonna do it this way anyway.

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