Zone 3 Seed Starting: When To Start Seeds In Zone 3 Climates

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By Liz Baessler

Gardening in zone 3 is tricky. The average last frost date is between May 1 and May 31, and the average first frost date is between September 1 and September 15. These are averages, however, and there’s a very good chance that your growing season will turn out to be even shorter. Because of this, starting seeds indoors in the spring is pretty much essential with zone 3 gardening. Keep reading to learn more about how and when to start seeds in zone 3.

Zone 3 Seed Starting

Starting seeds in zone 3 indoors is sometimes the only way to get a plant to reach maturity in the cold, short growing season of this region. If you look at the back of most seed packets, you’ll see a recommended number of weeks before the average last frost date to start the seeds indoors.

These seeds can more or less be grouped into three groups: cold hardy, hot weather, and fast growing hot weather.

  • The cold hardy seeds like kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts can be started very early, between March 1 and March 15, or about six weeks prior to transplanting out.
  • The second group includes tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. These seeds should be started between March 15 and April 1.
  • The third group, which includes cucumbers, squash, and melons, should be started just a couple weeks before the last frost date sometime in mid-May.

Seedling Planting Times for Zone 3

Seedling planting times for zone 3 depend upon both frost dates and the type of plant. The reason zone 3 seed starting dates are so early for cold hardy plants is that the seedlings can be transplanted outdoors well before the last frost date.

These plants can usually be moved outdoors anytime between April 15 and June 1. Just make sure to harden them off gradually, or they may not survive the cold nights. Seedlings from the second and third groups should be transplanted after all chance of frost has passed, ideally after June 1.

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