Starting Seeds For Transplant Into Your Fall Garden

In Zone 9 we have the pleasure of growing vegetable gardens all year round.  This can cause a lot of confusion for new gardeners or gardeners from further north.  The fact that pretty much all the gardening books explain gardening from a further north view and don't mention our southern zone view, makes the confusion that much worse.

You have to think in reverse, and it requires a little math.

  • Instead of the last frost of winter, think first frost of winter.
  • Instead of planting after danger of the last frost, think harvesting before danger of the first frost.
  • Instead of worrying about heat and shade, think cold and wrapping.

You can plant seeds of all your plants directly in the ground at the appropriate time, BUT, you run some risks if you do, especially with the warm weather plants.

  • Seeds don't germinate and you have to plant again, maybe several times
  • Seedlings get destroyed or die
  • You may only have a few seeds of a certain variety, or not commonly available locally, or rare seeds, or very expensive seeds that need to be nurtured
  • Planting bed isn't ready yet
  • Run out of time for plants or fruit to mature before temperatures and day length turn too cold and too short
If you start you seeds in pots or flats before their fall planting dates you get a BIG head start on the season and vastly increase your chances of a good harvest.
Below is a chart for the average expected first (winter) and last (spring) frosts in Florida.
The second chart lists fall garden plants, how many weeks before garden planting time you should start the seeds in little pots/flats, how many weeks (the minimum) before the first frost they should be planted in the garden, and when they should be planted in the garden.  Get a calendar, find what the approximate first frost date is in your area, do some math, and design a planting date schedule for your garden.
first and last frost FL

Start seeds for Fall garden transplant

8 thoughts on “Starting Seeds For Transplant Into Your Fall Garden

  1. I’m in central Florida Dade City, about 25 miles North of Tampa and 25 Years. I had a jungle this spring garden Baseball took my time until 8oclock at night and I planted all my raised beds(6 @ 4′ x 16′ , 6 6′ round tubs andf all the 58″ row middles between those raised beds. Oh don’t let me leave out the four 40′ rows of beans. along with 12 2′ ’round x 6′ hjigh tomato cages I over did it. This fall I’m cutting back “I couldn’t give all the vegetables away, Go FIGURE” . Going bact to my 6 raised beds, ^ 6′ tubs and 6-Tamato cages.thta’s nall I need. II thank you for all the e-mails Grady

  2. Why are some plants not listed for transplanting in your list of transplants, like corn, beets and others. I assume they are too fragile, or that they are spaced so close that it would not make sense, like radishes, carrots and others, but I am not sure. Please educated me a bit on this as to why. Thanks, Park

    • Because they just don’t transplant well or because they grow just as well or better if the seeds are directly planted.

  3. Hi, cabbage transplants can be started 6 weeks before sept. or approx. now. So what would happen if I just put the seed directly in the soil? thanks

    • They would grow, but not as well as they would if you started them in pots. In the open garden it’s still too hot, cabbage seedlings are a bit fragile and are easily destroyed by our summer rains and glaring sun, they are tender food to many insects animals that are out and about at this time, and their fledgling root systems don’t develop in open ground as well as the will in a container.

  4. I just bought some Hexnicks Giant Easy Micromesh Grow Tunnels and was wondering if I could safely start my seeds in them instead of having to transplant them?

  5. It’s hot all over, I don’t have a/c, where do you suggest I plant seeds in pots 4-6 weeks from time of transplanting into the garden? There is shade under the oak trees. Would that be cool enough? I would have to provide shelter from the rain.
    What temperature is ideal for starting seeds for a fall garden? Most years I just buy my fall plants but I would really like to grow the varieties I want instead of what’s available at the store.

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