Planning – Scheduling the Seed Sowing

Planning the gardening season is one of those tasks that gets a bit easier with time. The first stage is simply to decide what you want to grow. There’s not much point in growing things nobody in the family likes. Although that seems obvious, you’d be surprised how often people do it!

Packets of seeds on a table

Sorting out the seeds for planting in March.

It gets a bit trickier when it comes to exactly which cultivar grow. For example, when growing broad beans, which of the many varieties to grow is the question. That’s pretty easy for me now, I know what I want having tried various over the years.

Having said that, it’s a good idea to try a few new things though. For years I stuck with Ailsa Craig first early potatoes but a few years ago I tried Casablanca instead. Now my ‘goto’ first early is Casablanca, which I found to be superior for yield, keeping and flavour.

Before buying seeds I check what I have in my seed box. Stored carefully, seeds left over from one year can still be good in following years. Different seeds will have different lifespans. Broad bean seeds will keep for 2 years and cucumbers for 7 years but parsnips just one. Once you’ve opened your parsnip seeds, use them as they won’t keep.

See: How long seeds will keep for?

Freezing Seeds

Incidentally, there was a craze for freezing seeds to store long term during the pandemic. People stocking up for the apocalypse! Seeds can be stored long term by freezing but it has pitfalls, see Freezing Seeds


  • Having gone through my stock and ordered new to fill the gaps, I ended up with a list of all my seeds for 2024. By each I jot down when I’ll be sowing them. Some, like tomatoes, will just be sown in one month but others, like radish, will be sown successionally over a number of months.
  • The next stage is to extract a list of the seeds I want to plant this month. Because I produce the lists on the computer using a spreadsheet, that’s very quick and easy. But it’s easy enough to do it by hand using pen and paper though if you’re not good with computers.
  • Since some seeds will be started in the propagator, as a memory aide I noted the optimum germination temperature by those. That way I can make the most efficient use of the propagators.

All that remains is to put the seeds for sowing together in a box and head out to sow them. I’ve printed the list to take out to the potting shed so I don’t miss any and note the date sown by each one to check them off.

Seeds too old?

Sometimes you’ll find a packet of seeds that’s well past when it should have been sown. But nature doesn’t always obey our expectations. You can do a seed germination test if you want to know if they’re worth sowing. As seeds age, the rate of germination falls but you can compensate by sowing more thickly.

Where the seeds are going to be pricked out and potted on, you can just sow the lot. Maybe you’ll be lucky and enough will come up but you’ve nothing to lose by trying.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
6 comments on “Planning – Scheduling the Seed Sowing
  1. Sarah says:

    Thank you,
    I really appreciate your introduction to get me started with the life of the garden. I always feel a bit rusty this time of year, as all I’ve been doing for a while is clearing up the dead of last year and pruning. My energy is at a low spot and after your email I’m ready to go xx

  2. allex says:

    Nice to have a big chart for seed planting times.

  3. Anne Krumins says:

    I volunteer in a community garden attached to a food kitchen this will be a great tool

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