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How to Use My Free Printable Seed-Starting Tracker

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Hello gardeners. Last week I posted 10 Simple Tips for a Successful Indoor Seed Starting Setup, and in it, I mentioned my free printable seed-starting tracker, which you can download lower down on this page. This week I’ll explain how to use the tracker because it’s a little bit different from other seed starting trackers I’ve seen online.

There are a lot of seed-starting trackers out there, but none of them quite worked for me, so I made my own to suit my gardening system. My tracker is different because it has a place for all the important dates you need to keep track of for your garden. That means you won’t have to keep referring to a calendar to count back weeks before your last frost date. Just count them once and record them on the worksheet for future reference. The tracker also has a place to record both the recommended planting date for starting seeds and transplanting them out into the garden.

How to Get Your Free Printable Seed-Starting Tracker

To get your tracker, enter your name and email into the form below and I’ll send it to you right away. When you sign up, you’ll also be subscribed to my bimonthly newsletter. Don’t worry, you can easily unsubscribe if it isn’t your jam–no hard feelings–and keep the freebie.

How to Use the Seed-Starting Tracker

I’ll go through each part of the worksheet and explain how I use it to track my seed starts and transplants.

1. First and Last Frost Dates

First, fill out the Average Last Frost and Average First Frost dates for your location. These are also sometimes called expected last frost and expected first frost. These fields are located just below the document title. See the image below.

If you want to keep this sheet for your gardening records to reference in future seasons, then record the year as well.

To find the Average Last Frost and Average First Frost for your location, visit this handy Almanac site https://www.almanac.com/gardening/frostdates. Or, ask for the dates at your local nursery or local extension office. It’s pretty normal to hear different dates from different sources. Don’t worry too much about it, just pick one, or pick an average and write it down.

Keep in mind that these dates are just the average dates for the first and last frosts over the past several years, and probably won’t be the actual first and last frost dates in any year. Especially with climate change upon us, take these dates with a grain of salt, and monitor the weather and soil temperature when transplant time nears to determine the right time to plant seedlings out.

2. The “Weeks Before” Table

Fill out the “Weeks Before” table (see the image to the right).

Go down to week 0 (zero) and write your average last frost and average first frost dates in the date columns. Then open up a calendar for reference and fill out the remaining cells. Now you’ll always have these dates at hand and won’t have to go flipping through a calendar or counting weeks every time you need to know when, for instance, ten weeks before the last average frost date is.

3. Organize Your Seeds

If you already have your seed packets, then take a few minutes to organize them. Read the backs and sort them into two piles, one for seeds to sow directly in the garden, and the other for seeds to start indoors. Further, organize the “seeds to start indoors” pile by the number of weeks before your average last frost date to start them.

4. Fill in The First Row

Starting with the earliest seeds to start, fill in the first row of the chart. 

Plant Name and Variety

Record the type of seed you’re starting and its variety or source if you want to. For example, Broccoli, Di Cicco, Botanical Interests.

How Many

Record the number of seedlings you want to transplant into your garden, according to your garden plan. You might choose to start a few extra seedlings to be sure you end up with enough. You can always give extras away to neighbors or friends.

Start Indoor Columns

These columns will help you plan and record indoor seed starting timing and dates.

Weeks Before Frost Date

Consult the seed packet and record the recommended number of weeks before your last frost to start these seeds indoors. If the packet provides a range of weeks, then record the range.

Notice that this column says “frost date,” not “last frost date.” For spring planting, you will reference your last spring frost date here. But for fall planting, you’ll reference your first fall frost date.

Start Date

Consult your date reference on the right side of the tracker to fill out this cell. If the packet provides a range of weeks, then you have a choice. Either write down the range of dates or just pick one for your target. I like to write the earliest start date to give myself some wiggle room. 

Sow Date Checkbox

Check this cell when you have started these seeds. It doesn’t matter if it’s not on the exact date that you wrote down, but if it’s more than a couple of days off, change the date to reflect when you actually started the seeds. I usually write the date started on the plant tags also.

Transplant Columns

These help you know when to transplant your seedlings outside into your garden.

Weeks Inside

In the previous version of my seed starting tracker, this was “weeks from last frost,” but I’ve since realized that a more useful number here is the number of weeks the plants should have inside before they are ready for transplanting. This is usually about four to six weeks, but check the seed packet or look up the information for your specific plant.

Approximate Transplant Date

Add the number of weeks inside to the start date. An easy way to do this is to count weeks on the date table on the right side of the tracker.

Remember to start hardening off your seedlings about a week before actually transplanting them outside.

Transplant Date Checkbox

Check this cell when you transplant the seedlings outside. It doesn’t matter if it’s not on the exact date that you wrote down, but, again, feel free to change the date to reflect the actual day you transplanted your seedlings outside.

Late Season Planting

In the new version of my seed starting tracker, I’ve removed the late-season planting columns. If you want to start cool-season seeds in summer for fall planting, just fill out another row on the chart. Rather than weeks before your last spring frost, you’ll enter weeks before your first fall frost. This lets you know to get the seeds started by this date for the plants to have enough time to grow and yield a harvest before the expected first frost date.

Notes

This column is for any information that you want to remember for future seasons, such as “planted in 3” peat pots – sensitive roots,” where you sourced the seeds from, etc.

5. Fill In the Remaining Rows

There’s not much more to say than that. Finish filling in the information and planting dates for every type of seed you plan to grow. If you run out of lines, just print out another sheet.

You can also print out a different sheet for each garden project you have. Maybe you’re planting a veggie garden and also starting some perennial herbs from seed for an herb garden. Or maybe you’re like me and planning a polyculture garden bed. A separate sheet for each garden area could be handy.

Conclusion

My printable seed-starting tracker is a little bit different from the others out there. I customized it to work for me and now I’m sharing it with you. I hope you find it useful for planning your own garden seed-starting and transplanting schedule. If you don’t yet have your copy, you can pick it up by entering your info below.

If you find this tracker useful, or if there are changes you’d like to see in it, then please let me know in the comments.

Happy sowing!


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