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Starting plants from seed is one of the most rewarding gardening practices - if only for the chance to get your hands in the soil in the dead of winter. When to start seeds is a matter of experience, guessing and math. Many gardeners still plant by the moon. Others rely on phenology, the study of how plants and animals respond to seasonal changes in their environment. For example, you know itís time to plant your peas when the forsythia blooms.

More of us simply count the number of weeks until spring. Remember, both the last expected frost date and the weeks required to coax your seeds into seedlings are approximations. One just never knows, do one? But itís a start. If you know when the last frost is expected and the seed packet tells you how many weeks prior to that date to start those seeds, you can just grab a calender and count backwards. (I didnít say it was calculus.) Here are some dates and times to help get you started. Set up your own calender and your seedlings will be ready for those first warm days.

Photo: © Marie Iannotti (2008) licensed to About.com, Inc.

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