Now is the time to start seeding your vegetable plants for the outdoor garden. Vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli benefit from early seeding as this extends your growing season.

By seeding four weeks before planting outdoors, your plants will have a good start on the growing season and you can look forward to an earlier harvest.

When selecting seeds, be sure to note the maturity date of a certain seed variety. The seed packages should give you that information. For example, if a package of cabbage seeds states it takes 85 days to maturity, consider our growing conditions and choose a variety that is closer to 60 to 65 days.

Realize that the time of “65 days to maturity” of a seed does not mean that if the seed gets planted today it can be harvested in 65 days. The time to maturity is calculated from the emergence of the first true leaves of the plant which, under most home conditions, can be three to four weeks. Consequently, it is advantageous to try to plant as short-seasoned variety of plants as possible.

To prevent any possible fungal problems, the ideal seeding containers should be clean, not reused from last year, and should be of a plastic material.

The soil is generally warmer in plastic containers than in peat containers and will give your seedlings a better chance to establish themselves. If you consider the “roots” of a plant to be its “feet”, then you will know how all plants like to have “warm feet.”

The soil should be a sterile medium and preferably quite fine. Try to look for a seed starter mix as opposed to potting soil. A good product is called Redi-Earth, but any fine combination of peat moss-vermiculite mixture would be fine.

Another must is to always use warm water. After seeding, cover the seed tray with a piece of clear plastic (the type produce comes in from the grocery store) and place the seeding container somewhere warm.

For the seeds to emerge quickly, they do not need extra light … they need warmth. I’ve often suggested the top of the refrigerator which is nice and warm as long as the seed tray does not get forgotten.

As soon as the seeds sprout, light is very important and they should be placed under fluorescent lights or in a southern-exposed window.

Seeding your own garden plants is fun and it’s exciting to see the seeds progress from seeds to plants to vegetables.

With an early start to the season, there are many vegetables we can grow. So, let’s get growing.

Ingrid Wilcox operates Lubbock Garden and Floral Consultant and offers gardening, greenhouse and flower arranging workshops. Contact her at ingrid@northwestel.net.