Most plants, if they’re started indoors, should be started 6-8 weeks before your last frost date. Since our last frost date isn’t until the end of the first week of June, 6-8 weeks is about mid-April. Leeks are the earliest thing I start–mostly right now I am doing planning. I’m trying very hard to strike the right balance of seed starting this year: not too many, not too few, not too varied, not too un-varied. I don’t want to be drowning in plants, but I want to have a wonderful garden. I want my vegetables to produce lots of delicious food, and I want my flowers to be gorgeous and smell heavenly. And I want to bury all of the weeds in tons and tons of plants that I do want (that seems more plausible to me than actually keeping up on the weeding). Anyway, that’s the plan. We’ll see how it goes.
I like mixing flowers and vegetables, but I have to plan. For instance, I can’t really plant many flowers in with the new potatoes, because otherwise I would have to dig up all of my beautiful blooming flowers in order to get to my delicious potatoes. Also, I can plant things where I plan on planting peas, because the peas have a very short season: they’ll probably be done and gone before I really get a chance to get everything in the ground (speaking from past experience, not desirable results). And I have to be careful not to start more things than I can really plant. It’s very easy to be too gung-ho in March and overwhelmed in June (again, speaking from experience).
March first I started the leeks–around 175 seeds, about 14 meals. That’s assuming, of course, that you’re feeding a large family and are using 8-12 leeks per meal. Leeks are not hard to grow. They’re pretty much a plant-me-and-forget-about-me kind of plant. The thing is, you have to plant a lot of them to really make it worth your while. If you plant one tomato plant, you’ll get fresh tomatoes for weeks. If you plant one leek, you get one leek. The easiest way to grow them is to start them inside–Johnny’s says 2 months or earlier. They’re supposed to be at least 8 inches tall by the time you plant them out, because you’re supposed to plant them in 6 inch deep holes (we use a dibble). The more that is underground, the more you can eat, but if they don’t stick out above the holes, they don’t get enough sun and they die. That’s what happened to most of mine last year–they weren’t tall enough to stick out above the ground. Leeks were kind of on the bottom of my list, so they didn’t get started soon enough. This year I’m trying to make up, and I’m starting them really early.