To seed or not to seed: Is it too early to start spring plants indoors?


FENTON, Mo. – For anxious home gardeners, these cold winter days can be tough to wait out. But one Fenton man is way ahead of schedule.

“I always do it this time of year. Some people think it’s a little early. But I put them in the ground. They come up.”

Steve Houston has been gardening all his life. From his experience and a few YouTube videos, he has some tricks to get his seeds going early. His peat pods are filled with cauliflower, broccoli, and tomato seeds.

“When it gets grey out and it’s always cold, you kind of start looking for something to do,” Houston said. “It is a little therapeutic. It says, ‘Okay, it’s not going to be like this all the time.'”

While his efforts are great, Daria McKelvey, supervisor of the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Center for Home Gardening, says hold on.

“I have the itch, too. I have to control myself. It is a little bit too early to do any type of seeing right now,” McKelvey said.

Usually, you don’t want to start seeding cool-season crops until the middle of February. Otherwise, you have a lot of maintenance to do.

“The problem you’re going to run into is, once they start to get big enough, you’re going to have to care for them indoors until they can safely be planted outside,” McKelvey said. “Most of the cooler season crops don’t like to be planted outside until the soil is at least 60 degrees.”

Our average final frost date is April 15. Daria said to use that date and count backward based on how long it will take your seed to germinate.

If you have questions, they can help. You can call MoBOT’s Horticulture Answering Service Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., at (314) 577-5143 or visit The University Of Missouri Extension’s vegetable planting calendar is another great resource.

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