Starting seeds indoors can give you an advantage if you hope to have well-developed vegetables this summer and is necessary if you plan to grow cool season crops such as lettuce, radishes, cabbage, broccoli, peas and a variety of leafy greens. The average last frost date in Billings is May 18th and average first frost date is September 24th, which makes our growing season relatively short – only 130 days. 

Understanding the Seed Packet

It is important to consider what you want to grow in your garden this year and check the seed packet to see how many days the plant will take to mature. Be aware that this number is just an average and is usually dependent on optimal conditions and different seed companies may even have unique definitions of “days to maturity” for the same seed. Soil moisture, humidity, fertility, sun exposure, temperature and day length will all affect the time it takes for your plant to reach maturity. If you have purchased seeds from our store, Botanical Interests defines “days to maturity” as the following: when sowing seeds outdoors or in its final destination, “days” means the time from sowing the seed to the first day it’s ready to harvest. If you are growing a plant that is traditionally grown into a transplant then moved into the garden, then “days” actually means days from transplant to first ripe fruit. This will give you an idea of when to sow seeds indoors and out depending on what it is. It is usually recommended to sow seeds indoors 6 weeks before the average last frost date for annual plants and vegetables.