• Featured Gardening Articles

  • Featured Recipes

  • Article Categories

  • Get Garden Help by the Month

  • more info

When to Start a Vegetable Garden in Seattle

January 25, 2009

In my case, the time to start my vegetable garden in Seattle happens to be on a snowy day in winter. Well, actually, I should back up. I started planning weeks ago, but today the actual planting began today. As I watched snow flurries floating and blowing out the kitchen window, I rearranged my dining room to accomodate seed trays. (This room gets the best light and has a heater vent under the seedling table. Seedlings love bottom heat to get those roots growing!)  Then, I filled and watered in some seedling starter trays. As I waited for the soil to hydrate and drain, I mapped out 2009 for starting seeds indoors and outdoors.

Day 1: Starting Seeds Don't Look Like Much

Day 1: Starting Seeds Don’t Look Like Much

I’m a big fan of Seattle Tilth’s Maritime Northwest Garden Guide (available here) for month-by-month recommendations, but this year I decided to add something else to help me map out my planting and harvesting program. As I was ordering seeds from Irish-Eyes, I noticed they offer a garden planner for just $2.50. I ordered it, and so far I’m in love with it. Granted, I haven’t tested it for a growing year yet and I would never consider it a replacement to my Tilth book or Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, but the concept is fantastic. It offers a grid and pull out system. You determine your first and last frost dates (they provide some rough numbers for most US cities), and from that you are able to determine when to start seeds indoors, first plant and last plant for the season. As well, it recommends expected harvest dates, plant spacing, row and hill recommendations. It doesn’t offer every single edible out there, but if you determine the days-to-harvest on your seeds (should be on any packet worth buying), you should be able to match that plant to others on the chart.

Using the chart and my days-to-harvest match ups, I determined today was a good day to start kale, chard, cabbage and cauliflower indoors. So, here goes. It may be snowing, but today’s the day I start my edible garden from seed in 2009.

If you’re worried because you haven’t picked up seeds, start trays or garden planners, don’t fret. Stores are filling up with seed starting materials now. And, there’s plenty of time to order great heirloom, organic seed from suppliers like Irish Eyes and still have it shipped to you in plenty of time. Just don’t wait too much longer.

Need help with your Seattle edible garden and don’t think books and pull out charts offer enough for you? Get in touch to set up a garden coaching session now! It might be snowing, but if you wait until the sun comes out and the flowers are blooming, it may be too late to plan your garden spaces, prep your soil, start your seeds and enjoy all the edibles we are able to grow in our own gardening spaces.


  1. Willi says:

    What a cool tool! I think I’m definitely going to order it. I want to make sure I make the best use of my space this year and that seems like it could really help with succession planning.

  2. rhaglund says:

    Thanks for writing in Willi. This morning I did a quick review of what Tilth recommends v. what the this new garden chart recommends, and they’re slightly different — imagine that!?!

    I should point out that by starting early, I’m relatively “safe” with my early crops as I have a hoop house and other protected/warming outdoor areas where they can live.

    It’s nice to see real sunlight hitting the seedling tray this morning even if the ground is frozen solid and the rhodies are rolled up like little cigars.

  3. […] germinating seedlings in my 2009 vegetable garden? Yes, the cauliflower, kale and cabbage that I seeded just two days ago is already beginning to germinate. Yesterday, the seedling tray enjoyed bright, warm sunlight in a […]

  4. Ahhh starting seeds…its on my ‘to do’ list this week! Great recommendation for a wonderful book! Very timely post

    I’m going to have to check out your garden planner. Kim

  5. I have to admit I am just reading Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades! I moved to Northern CA from Texas four years ago and couldn’t figure out why my growing skills suddenly dropped from a 10 to a 2! Steve’s book is amazing. I should have read it long ago, but didn’t know it existed. Now, I’m like some convert telling everyone I know! For instance back in Texas I rarely used rock phosphate, but here it is a necessity. Plus, I’ve been learning about short season varieties of corn, beans, etc… I think I’ve got about 4 corns now that will produce in 60 days or less!

  6. rhaglund says:

    Farmer John, Thanks for writing in. I’m sorry you came to this book late (as did I). Still, it’s good we both found it! Any chance you have seed you’d like Garden Help to try out in Seattle and review on the site? Please get in touch anytime with any recommendations! (I haven’t ordered corn yet, and have decided to renovate a fresh patch for it this summer! Want some Seattle trials?!)

  7. […] Seattle, odds are you’ll want to start planting some seed as early as January. The cabbages I seeded in 2009 in January were ready for harvest by early June (and continued to feed us for most of the summer). Need help […]

  8. Agnes Mendis says:

    I am a visitor from Sri Lanka unfamiliar with plants and garden calendar for Seattle area.But I would like to start some suitable vegetable plants immediately. Please advise. Thank you

  9. rhaglund says:

    Agnes, There are a number of references in this article that will help you get started or try searching under “edible” or “vegetable” garden for more insights. If you wish to schedule an in-person consultation, please fill out help form to get started.

    Good luck!

  10. Debi Kirac says:

    How do you schedule a consultation? I am starting a rather large garden for the first time this spring and would love some review and discussion of what I am considering. Thanks for your help.

  11. Debi,

    Thanks for the inquiry. We’ll get in touch directly with details. Thanks!

  12. […] germinating seedlings in my 2009 vegetable garden? Yes, the cauliflower, kale and cabbage that I seeded just two days ago is already beginning to germinate. Yesterday, the seedling tray enjoyed bright, warm sunlight in a […]

  13. […] started planning our expanded edible garden last December. I ordered seed in January. And I began seeding my edibles in early January with mixed results. So far, we’re harvesting buckets full of lettuce, spinach and sorrel each […]

  14. Hana says:

    I am an Australian looking to move to Seattle. I am a very keen gardener, growing herbs. fruits, vegetables and all sorts of ornamentals. Where do I go to find out what I can and can’t grow?

  15. Hana – this site should help. Attend the NW Flower & Garden Show in February for lots of other great ideas too. Bon chance!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

(You can support this blog by buying through our links. Purchases made through the affiliate links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors but don’t cost you anything extra. Thank you for buying and helping support us!)