Seedlings safe to transplant outdoors yet?!

Asked March 30, 2020, 2:39 PM EDT

I started seedlings a couple weeks ago for carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, spinach, lettuce mix, tomatoes, snapdragons and onions. I realize now they were lacking enough sunlight so I moved them to a sunnier window, but I'm wondering if any of them are still salvageable and if I can safely transplant them to my garden beds by now (the cold weather veggies?). I'm having a hard time finding resources, like an app, that can easily and quickly tell me, based on location, estimations for last frost and what to plant, when to plant, and who to plant them with. Is there anything better than Farmer's Almanac? Also, what device do you recommend for testing soil pH and do you recommend getting one as a veggie gardener just starting out?

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

Although very leggy, some may survive if planted outdoors now and perhaps coddled a bit. The onions in particular stand a better chance of survival since the part people are most interested in are the bulbs, which of course won't be stretched. You can experiment with the rest of the cool-season veggies by planting outside now. If you wish to start over (or try a second batch for better results), you can direct-sow the carrots and kale outside in your vegetable beds now. The broccoli and cauliflower can also be direct-sown now, though they thrive with more fertile soil. All would benefit from regular monitoring for water, thinning out crowded seedlings (if sowing a new batch) as they grow, and using a "floating row cover" as needed.

As you might expect, the tomatoes need to wait until the soil is much warmer, around early to mid-May. The snapdragons can go outside now.

Here is a handy calendar for our area on the ideal seed-starting and transplanting times for common crops:

Frost-free dates in our area are dependent on several factors, but averages of multiple years can be found here: (use the link on the page to put in your zip code)

For home soil testing, either the pH probes or test kits (with indicator dye) will work. We also recommend using a soil testing lab if you would like feedback on nutrient levels and a bit more detail on pH. The current situation may have some labs closed, so check with the lab before sending in any samples. (There is a link of that page to area labs offering testing.) In the interim, home testing devices should be fine.