I ordered flower, vegetable and herb seeds today and it made me think about how many seeds have been planted too early. Instead of growing strong stems with healthy true leaves, they get tall with thin, lanky stems.
Resolve this year to learn more about each type of seed and give them what they need to be successful: Sterile pots, sterile starting soil, light source, warmth, run a fan on them to make strong stems and pick them out to reduce the number of seedlings per pot. It is New Year's Day after all and resolutions are in order.
Organic Gardening Magazine provided guidelines for a few vegetables that will serve as examples.
Broccoli seeds - 4 to 6 weeks from sowing to transplanting. Plant outside 2 weeks before last frost. Translation: Assuming our last frost to be April 15, seeds should be planted inside between Feb 15 and March 1 and moved outside April 1.
Melon seeds - 3 to 4 weeks from sowing to transplanting. Plant outside 2 weeks after last frost. Translation: Last frost is April 15, plant outside May 1st. Sow indoors March 7.
Tomatoes - Plant outside May 1st. Sow seeds inside mid-March.
Succession planting works best for most families. For example, two heads of lettuce a week is enough, so plant half a dozen seeds a week for several weeks.
On the web at http://www.backyardgardener.com/tm.html there is a timetable of flower germination data. It includes planting depth, soil temperature, days to germination, type of planting medium and comments.
A chart for vegetables - soil temperature, days to germinate, weeks between transplant and sow, setting out and comments is at http://vric.ucdavis.edu/veginfo/commodity/garden/veggarden/SeedGerminationTemp.pdf