Consider this your spring mantra.
Until early April to start your tomato and pepper seedlings (late March in southern Indiana). Unless you have a greenhouse or a very good set up of lights, starting seeds of these warm weather edibles too early will likely lead to unhappiness.
It’s just too early now. Without excellent light, the seedlings will stretch and elongate and weaken. They become susceptible to what’s called damping off, a common fungus that causes seedlings to keel over and die.
As seedlings grow, transplant them into cell packs or 3- to 4-inch pots. Again, these plants will need good light.
You can’t plant these outdoors until at least May 10, if not later. Southern Indiana gardeners can plant outdoors earlier, usually late April or early May.
Wise gardeners know warm soil is key to successful transplants of tomatoes and peppers. Wise gardeners also know to hold off planting peppers until a couple of weeks after tomatoes. Peppers really don’t like cold soil.
What you can sow directly outdoors right now: seed potatoes, radishes, spinach, carrots, lettuces, peas, nasturtiums, annual dianthus and sweet peas among others. Here’s a nifty calendar from Purdue on when to plant what.
Until nighttime temperatures are about 55F before moving your houseplants outdoors. Even though recent temperatures have been tempting, hold off. Houseplants are sensitive about temperatures below 55F, especially when spending the winter in your house.
When the time comes to move houseplants outdoors, start them out in shade or low-light areas. Over a week to 10 days, gradually expose them to more light. Remember plants outdoors dry out more quickly than when they are growing indoors, so monitor watering needs. Also protect houseplants (especially larger ones) from wind damaged. The wind may rip leaves or topple over plants and containers.
Waiting – one of the ways gardening teaching us patience.