Spring will be here before you know it so you may be starting to think about getting out into the garden again. While planting plants can give your garden an instant boost, planting seeds can save you money. But, not all seeds will have enough time to mature in your garden if you plant them outside.

In the northeast, our gardening time is limited to about five or six months of the year. Vegetables that take a long time to mature, like peppers and tomatoes, won’t have enough time to produce a crop if I start with a seed outdoors when it’s warm enough. But, thankfully, I can start seeds indoors to give them a little bit longer to grow.

So, what are the best seeds to start indoors?

First, take a minute to consider what is already plentiful during the summer, and what your family enjoys to eat most. It doesn’t make much sense for most people to grow things in your garden that no one will eat. Next, think about what’s very inexpensive at the grocery store during the summer. We can usually get zucchini at the grocery store for practically nothing. And, our neighbors usually bring over excess. For this reason, I don’t plant zucchini in my garden. I’d rather grow something else.

Once you’ve removed some items from your list, start thinking about what produce you really use during the summer. For us, that would be peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes. After you’ve made your list, it’s time to check out the seed packets.

Figure out your average growing season to determine whether you can plant a seed in the garden and have it grow to maturity before your last frost date. If you can’t, those are the seeds that you should start inside.

Here’s a list of common vegetables that are started inside by seed for those with short growing seasons.

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers (Green, Sweet, and Hot)
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Most culinary herbs (like basil and oregano)

If you’re an experienced gardener and are used to transplanting vegetables, you can try a few of these as well. They are more sensitive so you need to be careful when you transplant them to the ground.

  • Melon
  • Chard
  • Celery
  • Pumpkin
  • Cucumber
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash

Starting seeds inside doesn’t have to be difficult. You will need to ensure they have enough moisture and sunlight to grow without becoming spindly. Depending on where you live, you may need to invest in a grow light or a warming mat to help them thrive.