Seed Sowing Calendar

When to plant vegetable gardens is determined by the soil temperature a seed needs to germinate as well as its ability to withstand frost. Most common vegetables we eat do not fare well against frost.
For Colorado,  a safe time to plant is at the end of the second week of May, around Mother’s day.  Although snows can come as late as June, the average late frost has shifted by 10 ten days with our change in climate.  So I base my seed starting around a May 15 – 20 plant time.
If you intend to plant early spring seeds like radishes, beets, and lettuce, you can find the average soil temperature based on month at Colorado Climate Center

There are many things that can affect soil temperature including the soil humidity, and the evaporation rate off of soil.  Moisture cools soils as does evaporation.  Soil contents such as sand can increase soil temperatures due to the conductivity of the rock material.  Even the angle at which the sun hits the soil can have an affect.  Soils on a slope tend to run hotter than those on the level.  So with that the said each person’s soil temperatures could differ.

Raised beds also impact the soil temperatures as the tend to be drier and evaporate faster.  Although I could not find any definitive study showing the difference in temperatures for equivalent soil types, it is believed beds can increase soil temps by as much as 8 degrees.

I’ve created the following chart for knowing when to start indoor and outdoor seeds.

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DATESoil Temp*TaskPlantPlant Temp
3/1< 4012 week sow indoors
3/15< 458 week sow Indoorstomatoes, jalepenos, brussel
Prep beds for early spring plants
3/30456 week sow indoors
4/74 week sow indoors
4/1550Sow early spring plantsbeets55 – 70
5/155Harden Off Indoor starters
Plant Outdoorscorn60 – 80
Sow early spring plantsradishes, lettuce65 – 70
5/760Sow 2nd batchradishes, lettuce65 – 70
5/1765Plant Outdoorsbrussel sprouts68
Sow last batchradishes, lettuce
5/3070Plant Outdoorstomatoes, pole beans70
Harvest first batchradishes, lettuce
6/780Harvest 2nd batchradishes, lettuce
Plant Outdoorsjalepenos80
6/1580Harvest2nd batch radishes, lettuce
*Note soil temperatures are higher earlier in raised
beds and containers.

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