Congratulations on your purchase of the Valley Food Storage Seed Bucket. We believe in having a variety of food sources in case of an emergency, and having your own garden is key. This page will give you comprehensive instructions on when to plant, how to plant, and when the suggested harvest time is. Remember, your own climate will always play a part on when to plant and harvest.

Scroll down to find all of the instructions for the seeds included in your bucket, or click a vegetable below to jump to that section.

Broccoli

Waltham 29

When to Plant:

  • Broccoli can be planted in both the Spring and Fall. The seeds can germinate with temperatures as low as 40 degrees F.

How to Plant:

  • Broccoli needs full sun and moist soil.
  • Slightly acidic soil is prefered - for soil testing, contact your local Agricultural Extension office.
  • Plant the seeds ½ inches deep in fertile soil.
  • If planting in rows, plant 12-24 inches apart with rows 36 inches apart.
  • Make sure to keep your broccoli plants watered, but take care to not get the developing broccoli heads wet while watering.
  • For Spring planting: sow seeds indoors 2-3 weeks before the last frost.
  • For Fall planting: sow seeds 85-100 days before the average Fall frost, during mid- to late-summer.

When to Harvest:

  • Harvest your broccoli when you see that the buds of the head are firm.
    Cut the stalk of the main head at a slant, and smaller side shoots will grow up from where you’ve cut.

**If you live in a warmer climate, broccoli does best with a Fall planting. If you fear that your soil will be too hot, a layer of mulch will help ensure cooler soil temperatures. Make sure to harvest your broccoli before the yellow flower petals start to show - those parts have a mealy texture.


Cabbage

Golden Acre

When to Plant:

  • Cabbage seeds should be started inside around 6-8 weeks before the last frost in the Spring.
  • Harden them off and then transplant them outside 2-3 weeks before your last expected frost.

How to Plant:

  • Place your transplants about 24 inches apart for larger heads, or closer for smaller heads.

How to Harvest:

  • You can harvest your cabbage as soon as the head is firm all the way through when you squeeze it.

*Cabbage is a heavy feeder, so it takes more nutrients from the soil than normal. Avoid planting cabbage by tomatoes, strawberries and broccoli to ensure that they grow to their full potential.


Carrots

Scarlet Nantes

When to Plant:

  • Start your seeds in full sun to partial shade 3-5 weeks before your last frost.

How to Plant:

  • Plant your seeds 2 inches apart and ⅛ to ¼ inch deep.
  • When thinning, cut plants down.
  • Don’t pull up the excess carrots or it may damage root systems of neighboring carrots.

How to Harvest:

  • When carrots have reached maturity, simply pull them up by the tops.

*Carrots do best in sandy, loose soil. If your carrots are too short and ball-like, it means that the soil wasn’t loose enough to push through. Carrots taste better after going through one or more frosts, so don’t worry if it freezes when they are in the ground!


Cucumbers

Poinsett 76

When to Plant:

  • Cucumbers should be directly sown a 3-4 weeks after the last frost in the spring.
  • They can be started indoors 4-6 weeks before your last frost, using a grow light and seed starting soil mix.

How to Grow:

  • You can amend your soil with compost or aged manure prior to planting. Preferably in the fall so it will over-winter.
  • Plant ½ inch deep and about 1 inch apart.
  • Alternatively, you can create hills 4 – 6 feet apart, with 6-8 seeds per hill. Cut the three weakest plants once seedling emerge for this method.
  • Make sure to keep soil moist, avoid letting the soil dry out completely.
  • Germination generally takes around 10 days when temperatures are ~70 degrees.
  • They are vine plants, so setting up a trellis may be beneficial depending on your garden.

When to Harvest:

  • Harvest before they are fully mature, as cucumbers tend to get seedy once they’re at their largest.
  • They grow very fast, so be sure to check often to see if it’s time to harvest.
  • Make sure to cut them off the vine, as pulling them off can damage or break the vine, preventing further production.

Kale

Blue Curled Scotch

When to Plant:

  • Kale can be planted at any time, from early spring to early summer. Be mindful, as hot weather makes kale bitter.
  • If planted late in the summer, you can harvest it from fall until the ground freezes.

How to Grow:

  • Plant ¼ to ½ inch deep in an area with well-drained, loamy soil.
  • If planting in cool season, select an area that will get full sun. Choose partial shade if growing in the warm season.
  • Seeds will sprout best in soil around 70 degrees F.
  • After 2 weeks, thin seedlings so they are spaced 8 to 12 inches apart.
  • Water the plants regularly, but take care not to over water.
  • Mulch the soil heavily after first freeze. The plants can sometimes produce leaves throughout the winter.

When to Harvest:

  • Kale is ready to harvest when the leaves are about the size of your hands.
  • Avoid picking the terminal bud at the top center of the plant, as this will keep the plant productive.
  • Only pick about a fistful of leaves per harvest.
  • Kale grows until it’s about 20 degrees F - a touch of frost actually sweetens the flavor.

Lettuce

Salad Bowl

When to Plant:

  • Lettuces are a cool season crop and planting in the heat of summer should be avoided, but many varieties mature quickly and often more than one crop can be harvested in spring and late summer.

How to Plant:

  • Start lettuce seeds indoors or out, by sprinkling seeds in rows or in containers, and covering with a layer of soil.
  • If starting indoors, cover containers with a plastic bag to create a greenhouse effect and keep warm.
  • Sprouts should appear within a week to 10 days.
  • Once sprouted, remove the plastic and provide plenty of light.
  • Once seedlings have a few sets of true leaves, transplant to individual containers.
  • Harden off seedlings about a week before transplanting out of doors.
  • In outdoor beds, either thin or place transplants to desired spacing. We recommend approximately 4 inches apart for leaf lettuce varieties, 8 inches apart for loose-head types, and 16 inches for firm-head types.

When to Harvest:

  • Harvest your lettuce when it is full size but not quite mature.
  • You can remove the outer leaves to harvest and leave the inner leaves to grow.
  • You can pull up the entire plant or cut it off if it is a Butterhead and Romaine variety, or you can pick it when the center is firm if it is a Crisphead variety.

*The crisper the lettuce head, the less heat tolerant they will be. Lettuces can tolerate cold, but care should be taken to protect them from wind. Lettuce and other leafy greens have high water transpiration rates and should be kept consistently moist and in well drained soil. If leaves begin to wilt, plants need more water. Hand weed as necessary, but take care of shallow roots.


Onions

Yellow Sweet Spanish

When to Plant:

  • Onion seeds will germinate best in warm soil, between 68-75 degrees, with consistent moisture.
  • Onions will thrive in moderate temperatures with consistent moisture. It is important to not let your onion plot dry out completely, this could stunt or even completely stop growth.
  • 110+ Days to Harvest. Recommended for All Zones. Cool Season.

How to Plant:

  • For best results, onion seeds should be started indoors in flats and transplanted out of doors when seedlings are between 4-6 inches tall, taking care not to damage the roots.

  • Onion seeds will germinate best in warm soil, between 68-75 degrees, with consistent moisture. Onion growers know that great onions come from well prepared soil.

  • Onions need a sunny patch of fertile soil with good drainage. They prefer a pH of 6 to 7.5.

  • When setting seedlings, actual root depth will depend on the length of root, but usually between 1.5 and 2 inches, making sure that most of the white of the stem is planted along with the root.

  • Seedlings should be set at least 2-3 inches apart.

When to Harvest:

  • Harvest your lettuce when it is full size but not quite mature.
  • You can remove the outer leaves to harvest and leave the inner leaves to grow.
  • You can pull up the entire plant or cut it off if it is a Butterhead and Romaine variety, or you can pick it when the center is firm if it is a Crisphead variety.

How to Grow Onions from Seeds

Growing onions from seed is a slightly different endeavor than growing from sets. Sets are more common, and produce a faster harvest, however there is significantly less variety available, and the harvest tends to be smaller, more susceptible to disease and do not store as well.

Choose a variety of Onion that is best suited to your climate. Short Day onions are advised for southern climates, where they will grow through the cool Fall and Winter months and bulb production will be trigged when the days get longer in the summer. Long Day onions are best for northern climates, where they can enjoy the longer summer days necessary for them to form bulbs. Onions grown out of their ideal climate may never produce a useable, or good sized bulb.


Peppers (Sweet)

California Wonder

When to Plant:

  • Peppers are a hardy, warm season crop that enjoys full sun and loamy, well draining soil with a neutral pH.
  • While they are pest tolerant, peppers can be susceptible to mildews so they will prefer a warm and dry climate.
  • Keep in mind however, that while pepper plants grow well in warm summer temperatures, many varieties will wait until nights begin to reach cooler temperatures to produce the bulk of their harvest.

How to Plant:

  • Peppers, hot or sweet, can be quite easy to grow, but a little patience is required. Most varieties will take at least 85 days from sprouting to harvest.
  • For best results, seeds should be started indoors approximately 8-10 weeks before last expected frost date. Temperatures must be at least 70 degrees for good germination rates.
  • When starting seeds, it is recommended to start three to a pot and thin the weakest seedling, leaving the remaining two to grow as one plant.
  • Approximately one week before transplanting outdoors, harden off seedlings and prepare your plot with fertilizer or organic material, making sure your soil temperatures are at least 65 degrees consistently, or else seedlings will not survive the transplant.
  • Seedling pairs should be placed about 18 to 24 inches apart.
  • They need a well drained bed, but consistent moisture is also important -- plastic sheeting or mulch can be good ideas for retaining moisture, but a drip irrigation system can be a good approach as well.
  • Peppers will appreciate a stake or cage for stability, especially when they begin to fruit.
  • Put a few match heads and a teaspoon of fertilizer in the hole before planting, peppers like the sulfur.

When to Harvest:

  • Harvest your peppers when they are firm and full.
  • You can pick them while still green, but the more you let them ripen the sweeter they will be.

Spinach

Bloomsdale Long Standing

When to Plant:

  • Spinach is a cold-hardy, tender-leafed crop.
  • Direct sow in early Spring, as soon as the soil can be properly worked.
  • For a Fall harvest, plant again in late Summer, ensuring that soil temperatures are cool enough.

How to Plant:

  • Sow in a sunny location, in average, well-draining soil.
  • Sow about 12 seeds per foot in a row, or sprinkle over a wide row or bed.
  • Sow seeds ½ inch deep, compress gently into soil, and water lightly.
  • Seedlings emerge in about 7-14 days, depending on conditions. Soil should stay below 70º F for good germination.
  • When seedlings are about 1 - 2 inches tall, thin them to be about 4 - 6 inches apart.
  • Please note, do not thin baby spinach.

When to Harvest:

  • Harvest once the outer leaves reach 3 inches in length, your to your desired size.

*You can harvest the whole plant all at once and cut at the base, or leaves can be picked off one layer at a time. Don’t wait too long to harvest, or wait for larger leaves, as the leaves can quickly become bitter after maturity. Keep plants well-watered during dry periods to help promote growth. Plants need about 1 inch of rain per week during the growing season. If watering with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems.


Squash

Golden Summer Crookneck

When to Plant:

  • Plant summer squash in the spring if you want a summer harvest, or if you want a fall harvest, plant it in the mid to late summer.
  • Plant winter squash in either late spring or in the height of summer.
  • 45-60 Days to Harvest.

 

How to Plant:

  • Plant your squash where they can receive full sun.

  • Squash plants love to “eat" so they need well-fertilized, rich soil that is well-drained.

  • Fertilizing your squash as they grow will ensure a healthy, large harvest.

  • Sow summer squash seeds ½ inch (1.25cm) deep, and sow winter squash seeds1 inch (2.5cm) deep.

  • If you are planting in rows, seeds should be spaced 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15cm).

  • Rows should be 4 to 6 feet (1 to 1.85 meters) apart.

  • If you are planting on in hills, place 3 or 4 seeds in a ring on the top of each hill, and space your hills 3 to 4 feet (about 1 meter) apart.

When to Harvest:

  • Harvest at 7" - 8" inches long and when its skin reaches a deep yellow color.
  • Make sure to cut them off the vine, as pulling them off can damage or break the vine, preventing further production.

Tomatoes

Rutgers VF

When to Plant:

  • 80 Days to Harvest.

How to Plant:

  • Choose a commercially prepared seed starting mix. These mixes usually contain a mixture of peat moss, vermiculite and perlite, and some gardeners even make their own homemade mixtures. Make sure that your mix does not have a high fertilizer content; this can actually be a detriment to your tomatoes! Garden soil should be avoided too as it can compact too easily and be contaminated with harmful, disease ridden organisms.
  • Prepare your seed starting mix by combining it with warm water to make it arable. You might find that your mix can be difficult to wet, especially if it was a completely dry mix. Some gardeners let their mixes sit overnight to ensure that the water is evenly distributed. The final consistency should be damp and sponge-like. It should not feel soggy or water-logged.
  • Germinate your tomato seeds in the container of your choosing. Tomato seeds will germinate in any container as long as excess water can drain, and they are given enough moisture and warmth. Many nurseries and home gardeners use growing “flats" with different sized plastic cell inserts.
  • Fill your container with moist seed starting mix and plant the seeds 1/8th inch (3mm) deep. At this stage, it is okay to plant many seeds close together as seedlings will later be transplanted. If you are using a used container, it is best to sterilize them with a 10% bleach solution.
  • Place germination containers out of direct sunlight in a warm location. Although light is not needed in the germination process, it is not harmful as long as high temperatures are avoided. It only takes 5 to 10 days for tomato seeds to germinate if they are kept in their optimum temperature range for 70 to 80F (21 to 27C). Lower temperatures delay germination and higher temperatures accelerate it. Extreme temperatures, below 50F (10C) or above 95F (35C) are damaging to germination.
  • Recommended tip: Cover the germination containers with a plastic bag or sheet of plastic. This will help preserve moisture, but you must ensure that air can circulate and the mix does not dry out.
  • Monitor your germination containers regularly. When the first seedlings emerge from the soil, they need to be moved into bright light. Tomato seedlings immediately begin reaching for light. If the light is not adequate, they will grow undesirable 3-inch-long stems (8 cm long) right after germination. If this occurs, you can try to transplant to a deeper container, but you might have to start over!
  • A heated greenhouse is the ideal location for seedlings to continue their development. Another good choice is a cold frame (preferably with supplemental heat for cool nights). While some home gardeners use south-facing windows, most agree that an easier option is to use fluorescent shop lights. (Note: If fluorescent shop lights are used, the lights must be placed within inches of the leaves of the plant.) Tomato seedlings need lights for 16 to 18 hours per day, and they grow best at a temperature of 65F (18C) with some air circulation. In fact, you can turn a fan on your tomato plants for 5-10 minutes, two times a day. Moving and swaying in the breeze help your plants develop strong stems and prevent them from becoming “leggy inches.
  • Most growers agree that the best way to water tomato seedlings is to soak the mix then let it get nearly dry before the next watering.
  • Notice when the plants develop their first true leaves. Once these leaves appear, transplant the plants into their own, approximately 4 inch, container that drains well. This re-potting step is important as it helps the plant develop a strong root system. Do not be afraid to set the plants deeply, all the way up to their top leaves, into their new containers as tomatoes are able to develop roots all along their stems.
  • Depending upon the seed starting mixed you chose, you might need to provide your tomato seedlings with supplemental fertilizer. If so, fertilize minimally with a weak, diluted solution.
  • Evaluate your container size and your growing conditions. If necessary, repot your tomato plants a second or third time to keep them from becoming rootbound. The tomato plants still require good lighting; ensure they receive plenty of sunlight. If that is not possible, fluorescent lights or high-intensity grow lamps in combination with sunlight are the next best choice.
  • Remember, it is difficult to keep large tomato plants under artificial lights. To avoid this, do not start too early! It is important to plan your seed start date so that your transplants are at a reasonable size at the same time the outdoor temperature becomes suitable for garden planting.
  • Determine when your tomato seedlings be started in your garden. Outdoor planting is best done 1 to 2 weeks after the average date of the last frost for your region. Consult with your friends, county extension agent or online to decide on your start date. Novice gardeners often start their tomatoes too early. Remember, it only takes 6 to 8 weeks for tomato plants to reach maturity, so if in doubt, err on the side of caution and transplant them outdoors later rather than too soon!
  • Slowly introduce your tomato plants to outdoor conditions. This process is called “hardening off. inches If you fail to harden off your plants, they may become shocked and temporarily cease to grow! When you first move them outside, avoid full sun and wind. The longer they remain indoors, the harder it is for tomato plants to acclimate to the outdoors. Cold frames provide another way to harden off tomato plants. Keep the covers in place during inclement weather and remove the covers on moderate days. Some gardeners build temporary structures from plastic sheeting, and others use buildings and fences to provide sun and wind protection while the tomato plants are adapting.
  • Freezing temperatures will kill plants quickly. Bring your tomato plants back inside if the forecasted weather is expected to drop below 40F (4C).
  • Transplant hardened off plants to their final outdoor growing location or into a large growing container! Master gardeners know that tomatoes love heat, and some of them preheat their soil by covering the planting area with plastic two weeks before they intend to plant. This will warm the soil be a few degrees and cause the plants to produce tomatoes earlier! Most also agree that any early blossoms should be plucked off prior to transplanting.
  • Tomatoes should be transplanted deeply. Fifty to seventy-five percent of the plant should be buried. It is okay to bury some of the lower leaves too. Space the plants 18 to 36 inches (45 to 90cm); this is the recommended distance for plants allowed to bush out on the ground. If you live in a warmer climate or are using tomato cages, you may space them half the suggested distance. This closer distance allows caged tomato plants to shade each other’s fruit and helps prevent burning—giving you a sweeter flavor!
  • Each plant will need about a gallon (4 liters) of warm water (80F/27C) within 10 minutes of transplanting. This helps avoid transplant shock. In the first 7 to 10 days after transplanting, give each tomato plant about 16 ounces (500ml) of water every day. Drip or soaker hoses are better than overhead hoses which can encourage diseases. After 10 days, water 2 to 3 times a week, and give each plant receives 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.6 cm)/2 gallons (7.5 liters) of water weekly. Use common sense, if you live in a hot or dry climate, you will need to give more water more often!
  • Recommended tip: Do not overwater! Keeping the soil soggy will smother and kill the roots and can cause stem fungus—especially when it is really hot!
  • Mulch your tomato plants a week or two after transplanting to your garden. A good mulch will consist of straw, dried grass and/or pine needles to control weeds and help the soil preserve its moisture during dry weather. Your mulch should be an inch (2.5cm) thick and surround each plant stem by at least 12 inches (30 cm) circle. Pine needles can help raise the acidity of your soil.

When to Harvest:

  • Harvest at when its skin reaches a deep red color.